Norway Takes The Fight To iTunes
Norway‘s top consumer advocate, Bjoern Erik Thon, said today that he is taking Apple Inc. to the government’s market council in a test case that hopes to force the American company to open the iTunes music store to digital players beyond the iPod/iPhone.
The case opened nearly 2 years ago (read about it in Out-law.com here) and since that time Apple has done little if anything to put forth a constructive agenda for opening up the iTunes ecosystem. Unfortunately for consumers, the company has also built up a reported 75% share of the digital downloads market in the meantime, begging the question: Isn’t this all a little bit too little, too late?
One might ask where the EU’s Competition Regulator stands on this issue. If a 75% market is not a monopoly we don’t know what is. Apple’s unwillingness to move on interoperability issues has only served to add insult to injury for many in the music industry.
The TMV Prediction
Apple will use this as a high-profile PR excercise where they let this relative European minnow ‘defend consumer rights’ and push through an increasingly MP3-based iTunes. Something they have been doing in recent months anyway, at least when it suits them. There’s also no question that last week’s Google/Amazon Music announcement (read my post here), along with other recent announcments from 7Digital, MySpace, Sky and ITV, will add some urgency to their thinking.
Apple has until Nov. 3 to respond to the Norwegian allegations, and the council is likely to decide on the case sometime in early 2009. If Apple fails to reply, the council has powers to demand business practice changes and/or levy fines.
Finland, Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands all back the Norwegian initiative.
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