Sells original Amazon products

Selling Apple Products Exclusively by Amazon - An Antitrust Violation?

Until the end of last year, Amazon was not allowed to be an official dealer for Apple products. This changed at the end of November 2018 - but to the disadvantage of small retailers.

In order to be able to sell Apple products in addition to Amazon itself as an authorized reseller on their “Marketplace” sales platform, providers have had to apply to Apple for them since January 4, 2019. However, this is difficult.

Apple grants Amazon sales license

For years, buyers on Amazon could not buy many of the popular Apple devices and only buy the Apple products from third-party retailers. Among other things, this posed the risk for the customer that various products such as power supplies and the like were not original products but fakes.

After the two IT giants had often disagreed in previous years and Apple heavily criticized Amazon for selling largely counterfeit products through third-party companies, Apple was able to bring itself to grant the e-commerce giant an official sales license at the end of last year To give. For example, the new iPad Pro, iPhone XR, iPhone XS and Apple Watch Series 4 can now also be purchased on Amazon. The agreement between the companies covers the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan and India.

Disadvantage especially for small traders

What is definitely an advantage for the buyer, however, proves to be extremely problematic, especially for small dealers.

After the agreement between Apple and Amazon, Amazon sent a message to every retailer who offered Apple and also “Beats” products on the “Marketplace” that the market-leading online mail order company was only working with a group of selected authorized resellers. He informed the retailers that the existing offers from Amazon websites in Europe would be removed by January 2019.

In the same announcement, Amazon mentions the only loophole being the possibility of being certified by Apple as an official retailer:

"Please contact Apple if you would like to apply to become an Authorized Reseller on Amazon."

Trying to apply to Apple as a reseller remains in vain

An effort that many retailers will probably save. But even if you try to contact Apple via email, the likelihood of receiving a dismissive response, as one of our clients found out, is high.

With the note that the department can only access the official data on their website, the retailer is made aware of the possibility of sending a formal complaint to the Apple Store Customer Care in Ireland. However, please do so by post and in English. So much for the service of a modern, market-leading company.

But even the English reply from Ireland, which comes in 1.5 months later, does not help the trader any further. You have to be satisfied with the information that Apple is currently not accepting applications from dealers who want to sell Apple products on the Amazon platform. Questions about the reasons or when such applications can be processed again remain open.

Agreement in question under antitrust law

The approach taken by the two companies raises the question of what exactly the agreement between Apple and Amazon entails and why they agreed to distribute the products. It is likely that Apple would like to ensure and control, among other things, that only original products are sold on the platform. For Amazon, the deal brings the opportunity to clean up the competition in order to increase sales.

For small dealers, the presence on Amazon's “Marketplace” has so far been a good opportunity to use the reach of the large company to compete with other larger companies. This enabled them to offer their offers to a wider range of customers. According to the new regulation, this option no longer applies to Apple products. In terms of antitrust law, the agreement between Apple and Amazon as the market leader could be dubious.

Abuse of a strong market position?

It must be ensured that electrical retailers have sufficient alternative alternatives available to sell their Apple products. Finding an online platform with the same reach as Amazon's is likely to prove difficult, however.

In the future it will be observed whether the cartel office investigates possible abuse of the strong companies and how it will evaluate the agreement between the IT giants.