FTC Scrutinizes Amazon-Apple Deal to Sell iPhones

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking into a deal between Apple and Amazon that brought direct iPhone sales to the latter (via The Verge).

iPhone Deal

Announced last year, the deal was an attempt for Apple to sell products directly on Amazon and help prevent the sale of counterfeit or misleading products. But it had the effect of hundreds of legitimate sellers being kicked of Amazon. These sellers offered low-cost and refurbished Apple products that Apple stopped selling.

One seller, a Minnesota man named John Bumstead who specializes in refurbished MacBooks, was contacted earlier this month by a group of FTC officials. Bumstead told The Verge that he was interviewed by FTC lawyers and an economist about the impact of the Amazon-Apple deal on his business. The group did not disclose the broader purpose of the interview, but at least one member of the group is listed as belonging to the FTC’s newly formed Tech Task Force, a division launched in February to police anti-competitive behavior on tech platforms.

Some experts like Sally Hubbard say that the deal could be grounds for an antitrust complaint. She says that the act of making a deal with a brand to lock out third-party sellers who sell counterfeit or otherwise lower-cost versions is called “brand-gating.”
Further Reading:

[Amazon and Apple Deal Devastated Third-Party Resellers]

[Apple Music Alternative Playlist Renamed ‘ALT CTRL’]

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