The EU is probing deals signed between mobile network operators and US iPhone-maker Apple to look for anti-competitive sales tactics. According to the Financial Times the probe follows complaints by the operators.
The EU executive Commission had sent out questionnaires to several European mobile network operators last week, in an effort to establish whether Apple aims to muscle out rival smartphone makers from the EU market, the Financial Times (FT) reported Monday.
The investigation was focusing on distribution terms that might favor Apple by ensuring no rival smartphone maker can secure a better sales deal, the British business daily wrote. Reportedly, Apple's anti-competitive sales tactics also included technical restrictions on its latest iPhone 5 mobile devices.
"The Commission has information indicating that Apple and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have concluded distribution agreements which may potentially lead to the foreclosure of other smartphone manufacturers from the markets," FT quoted from the EU questionnaire.
The inquiry was spurred by private complaints from mobile operators against Apple, the newspaper added.
According to FT, the nine-page catalog of questions sent to MNOs would seek to establish whether Apple forced MNOs to buy a minimum number of iPhones. Moreover, Apple was accused of using its power to secure better sales deals than its competitors.
In addition, the EU Commission was investigating whether the US techgiant had placed restrictions on the iPhone 5 so that it could not be used on Europe's high-speed 4G networks.
However, the US firm's contracts fully complied with EU laws, the FT cited Apple as saying.
The investigation against Apple was still preliminary, the EU Commission said, adding that before it could launch a formal probe it needed to be confident that Apple was dominant in the EU smartphone market.
The mobile operators are given until June 17 to reply to the Commission's questionnaire.
uhe/kms (Reuters, dpa)