Apple exec challenges e-book conspiracy

Jun 17, 2013 by John Biers
Eddy Cue, an Apple senior vice president, speaks on February 2, 2011, at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Cue downplayed the theory of an e-book price-fixing conspiracy at an antitrust trial Monday, saying publishers were already moving away from Amazon's model when Apple launched its iPad.

A top Apple executive downplayed the theory of an e-book price-fixing conspiracy at an antitrust trial Monday, saying publishers were already moving away from Amazon's model when Apple launched its iPad.

Eddy Cue, an , said in his second day of testimony that Apple introduced e-books for the that were not available on Amazon, which was selling many popular e- for $9.99.

"We were making available books immediately that weren't going to be available for months and at really great prices," Cue said as he was questioned by Apple attorney Orin Snyder in US federal court in New York.

"We didn't raise prices for books that weren't available."

Cue said that at the time, at least four major had delayed books to Amazon or threatened to do so in a practice known as "windowing," because of dissatisfaction with the .

Cue's testimony sought to blunt the US government argument that Apple and major publishers conspired to end Amazon's pricing scheme and impose a new system with higher prices for electronic books when the iPad was introduced in 2010.

But Cue, in response to questions from US Justice Department lawyer Lawrence Buterman, acknowledged that some e-book prices did go up.

Cue admitted that the day of the iPad launch, a memoir by the late US senator Edward Kennedy, "True Compass," was not windowed and that Apple was selling the book for $14.99 while it retailed on Amazon for $9.99.

"For that book, that's correct," Cue said.

Buterman said that only 37 books were windowed, saying this was a relatively small number.

Cue countered that "37 could be a huge number if it's the right books."

Cue also came in for tough questioning about a December 21, 2009 email updating Apple's chief at the time, , in which he said the publishers were generally pleased with Apple's stance because it "solves Amazon issue."

Buterman asked if "solving" the "Amazon issue" meant the publishers agreed to impose higher prices on other retailers.

But Cue denied this and said he was referring to following the publisher's demand that Apple not charge $9.99 for bestsellers.

"What I wanted was competitive pricing," Cue said.

The US Department of Justice has accused Apple of being the "chief ringleader" in a price-fixing scandal that has cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars. The company denies all charges.

The case centers on an intense month and a half of negotiations between Apple and the six largest US publishers ahead of Apple's January 2010 launch of its iPad and the announcement of its e-bookstore.

Prior to then, the publishers sold books to Amazon and other online booksellers through a "retail" model in which the retailer set the price.

After Apple's entry, the industry shifted to an "agency" model, where the publisher sets the price and the online bookseller receives a 30 percent commission.

Apple has sought to put the blame on publishers for the increased cost of books.

At the time that Apple launched its iBooks store, Amazon already controlled up to 90 percent of the ebook market.

Explore further: Ticketfly buying WillCall for on-premise data

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Apple fights manipulation claims on e-book prices

Jun 05, 2013

Apple Inc. defended itself Tuesday against claims that the computer giant manipulated electronic book prices and stifled competition when it opened an online bookstore three years ago.

Apple ebook price-fixing trial opens

Jun 03, 2013

The US government's trial against Apple, accused of leading a conspiracy to fix prices of electronic books, opened Monday in New York.

Recommended for you

Oregon sues Oracle over failed health care website

28 minutes ago

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum says she's filed a lawsuit against Oracle Corp. and several of its executives over the technology company's role in the state's troubled health insurance exchange.

Google buys product design firm Gecko

48 minutes ago

Google on Friday confirmed that it bought Gecko Design to bolster its lab devoted to technology-advancing projects such as self-driving cars and Internet-linked Glass eyewear.

Ticketfly buying WillCall for on-premise data

Aug 21, 2014

Ticketfly Inc., a San Francisco-based technology company among several posing a challenge to Ticketmaster, is acquiring WillCall Inc., a crosstown rival that turns your smartphone into a mobile wallet at live events.

HP revenue inches up after years of decline

Aug 20, 2014

Hewlett-Packard on Wednesday reported that its quarterly revenue rose for the first time in three years, nudged by improved computer sales everywhere except Russia and China.

Restaurants experimenting with pay-in-advance tickets

Aug 20, 2014

With restaurant patrons increasingly jumping on the Internet to make reservations, some high-end eateries here and across the country are adding a new tech wrinkle: having their clientele pay for their meal in advance using ...

User comments : 0