German Authority Opens Probe Into Amazon, Apple Over Alleged Anticompetition

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German antitrust regulators are investigating both Amazon and Apple over possible anticompetitive behavior in the country, according to German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, quoted by Reuters.

Germany is looking into whether Amazon is allowed to ban some third-party competitors from offering certain branded products on its eCommerce site, Reuters reported.

Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt is quoted by the German daily as saying for some brands, “all merchants with the exception of Amazon itself and the respective brand manufacturer are excluded,” according to Reuters. He added that bans of third-party dealers have to “comply with the principle of proportionality and must not lead to the elimination of competition.”

One example is Amazon’s work with Apple. Only Amazon and Apple’s own dealerships can offer the prominent phone maker’s products on Amazon’s site, Reuters reported.

Germany is the second-biggest market for Amazon after the U.S., according to Reuters. Third-party traders made up around 65 percent of sales in the country from March to May.

Last year, Amazon reached an agreement with the country’s government to overhaul the terms of service for third-party merchants. Because of that, the office dropped a seven-month-long investigation into Amazon, Reuters reported.

The new probe follows another one from Germany’s competition watchdog in August, in which Amazon’s influence on traders’ price setting was analyzed.

In that case, PYMNTS reported, the issue came from allegations that Amazon had been blocking sellers during the beginning of the pandemic because of reportedly high prices. Mundt said the eCommerce giant shouldn’t have a say in how items are priced.

Big Tech has been criticized as of late for potentially holding too much power and influence. The European Union recently debuted a “hit list” of companies that would be subjected to tighter regulatory scrutiny and the way they use data would be changed. Unnamed sources said the criteria would be based on market share of revenues and number of users.

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