Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has approached the Antitrust Authority to ensure that its activity with Israel's cellular operators will be legal, and to avoid disputes and problems ahead of the launch of the iPhone in Israel.
Apple wants to ensure that its agreements with Israel's three cellular operators, in which it dictates the terms for marketing and positioning the iPhone will not be ruled as restraint of trade, or cause other problems with the Antitrust Authority.
Sources inform ''Globes'' that Apple plans to launch the iPhone in Israel on October 15. Apple and Israel's cellular operators want to prevent a delay in the launch and meet the planned timetable.
Because of the upcoming holidays, Apple is unlikely to reach an understanding with the Antitrust Authority by the planned iPhone launch date, and it is doubtful if the launch will take place on time.
All three of Israel's large cellular operators will launch the iPhone simultaneously; an extraordinary event in itself. In most countries, Apple has taken care not to make a general launch of the iPhone, but to pick one or two operators in order to differentiate the device and improve sales. Since the Israel launch will be simultaneous by the operators, Apple has presumably signed the same standardized agreement with each of them. This could be considered as restraint of trade.
Apple does not allow cellular operators, including Israel's operators, to put their own logo on iPhones. It requires operators to sell the iPhone at a fixed price and to subsidize it to some degree, and compels them to use its only own material and marketing campaigns, and has made a slew of other very specific demands as well. These raise serious restraint of trade questions, especially since the issue involves the sale of a device by three operators who dominate the market.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 7, 2009
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009