Apple took fire from French competition authorities for the second time in a little over a month, for engaging in anti-competitive practices in its distribution network and abusing the economic dependence of resellers.
The French Competition Authority imposed a fine of €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) on the iPhone maker for a series of anti-competitive practices, stating this was the highest penalty it had ever imposed.
It also slapped fines of €76 million and €62 million respectively on Apple wholesalers Tech Data and Ingram Micro.
In a translated statement, president of the regulator Isabelle de Silva explained the move followed discovery of “very specific practices that had been implemented by Apple” covering distribution of products, excluding iPhones.
She stated an agreement between Apple and its wholesalers sterilised the market and prevented competition between the vendor’s various distribution channels.
The authority also ruled Apple had stopped premium distributors from lowering prices, which led to retail price alignment across almost half of the company’s market.
Finally, Apple was found to have abused the economic dependence of its premium resellers, which were deprived of stocks during new product launches “so that they could not respond to orders placed with them, while the network of Apple Stores and retailers was regularly supplied”.
The French authority claimed the practices led to the weakening of some resellers, including eBizcuss.
Last month, Apple was hit with a €25 million fine in France relating to deliberately slowing the performance of older iPhones, a practice which subsequently also resulted in the vendor agreeing to pay $500 million to consumers in its home market to settle legal action.
Apple plans to appeal the latest fine, Reuters reported.