Brussels probes Apple's tactics
EUROPEAN regulators are to launch a new probe into Apple's sales methods as part of a preliminary investigation into the company.
The European Commission is looking at whether the methods Apple uses to have mobile network companies stock the iPhone constitute an abuse of its position at the top of the smartphone market.
The regulator "has received information from industry players concerning Apple's distribution practices for iPhones", said a spokesman for Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia.
"We are currently examining the situation," he said. "This does not prejudge the commission's position on the issues raised."
Antitrust officials at the Brussels-based commission said in March they were looking at whether Apple's distribution methods for iPhones and iPad tablets were anti-competitive.
Apple has long been renowned for its tough negotiating practices when it comes to getting its phones into the stores of mobile carriers.
Among the accusations levelled at Apple are that it forces carriers to buy a minimum number of iPhones and that the company demands carriers do not offer a better deal on rival phones. The commission has sent a nine-page questionnaire to carriers on the matter.
Apple last year settled an EU antitrust probe into the pricing of e-books after it agreed to change agreements with four publishers.
The California-based company previously ended another antitrust case by pledging to reduce prices for UK iTunes music downloads. The EU closed a probe over restrictions on iPhone applications in 2010.
A spokesman for Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
This is the latest problem to hit Apple in what has been a bruising week for the company. It was pilloried by US politicians last week for how it avoids tax on billions of euro of its profits.