It's a good job Apple has a fat wallet, because it's going to have to reach deep into its pockets to pay its latest fine. The Silicon Valley tech giant was issued with a penalty of 1.1 billion euros ($1.2B) on Monday by France's competition watchdog following a decade of investigations.
France's national competition authority found Apple guilty of anti-competitive behavior in its distribution network by conspiring to fix prices and limit competition. Two Apple distributors, Tech Data and Ingram Micro, were also sanctioned, bringing the total fines issued as part of the decision to 1.24 billion euros ($1.4B).
But the majority of the competition authority's admonishment was reserved for Apple, which received the heftiest sanction ever to be issued the watchdog.
"First, Apple and its two wholesalers agreed not to compete and prevent distributors from competing with each other, thereby sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products," said President of the French Competition Authority Isabelle de Silva, in a statement. "Secondly, so-called Premium distributors could not risk promoting or lowering prices without risk, which led to an alignment of retail prices between Apple's integrated distributors and independent Premium distributors."
She added that Apple had abused the economic dependence of these distributors by subjecting them to unfair and unfavorable commercial conditions, especially compared to its network of integrated distributors.
A spokesman for Apple described the decision as "disheartening," especially given the company's 40-year history of operating in the country and the 240,000 jobs it provides in France.
"[The decision] relates to practices from over a decade ago and discards thirty years of legal precedent that all companies in France rely on with an order that will cause chaos for companies across all industries," he said. "We strongly disagree with them and plan to appeal. We are extremely proud to serve our French customers and believe they should be allowed to choose the product they want, either through Apple Retail or our large network of resellers across the country."