Apple guilty of price fixing

From the BBC: Apple conspired with publishers to fix the price of electronic books, a US judge has ruled. Manhattan Judge Denise Cote said the iPad maker “conspired to restrain trade”. But the firm’s spokesman, Tom Neumayr, said Apple would appeal against the ruling and fight “false allegations”. Mat Honan remarks: "Stabbing Apple to stop… READ THE REST

I’m sad local bookstores aren’t doing well but I’m not sad that I can carry thousands of books on my phone or tablet. The death of bookstores seems inevitable the same way the video store and music store has died.

What I’d much rather see is Apple forced to open their platform. Imagine if Microsoft required 30% of all sales for everything sold on Windows. It would be nice if other online bookstores could compete with equal footing on iOS instead of only iBooks. Then we could have more indie online stores specializing in whatever they choose. Sure they can do it now but not seamlessly as Apple requires 30% if they want a seamless experience.

Well, I want Apple opened up, too, but curiously enough I think Microsoft is going the curated/closed Apple route (see Windows Store, Windows RT, XBox One, etc). It would be all kinds of funny if Apple went more open just as Microsoft went more closed!

Amazon didn’t kill the local bookstores; large national chains killed the book stores. Even the NYT is reporting that independent book stores are actually growing and are doing well. I would hazard a guess for that reason, the demise of national chains due to poor business decisions and Amazon’s ability to beat them on price.

That aside, even B&N is reporting growth at their physical retail establishments and while e-books may be the #1 format sold on Amazon, they are still only 20% of total sales and are showing signs of slowing down. The majority of books sold are still paper based and local book stores are growing faster than national chains. Hardly the doom and gloom oft repeated.

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Even if it were the doom and gloom oft repeated, it’s far from clear that Apple’s willingness to make ebooks more expensive in exchange for bringing more users into their dystopian walled garden rather than Amazon’s dystopian walled garden has much bearing on the fate of the retail book market, whether big-box or independent.(Nor is it clear that some other verdict would have been either better or worse for retailers).

Locally it was pretty clear that the big chains killed off the independent bookstores and small, local chains. Ironically the bigger stores had worse book selections than the smaller stores they replaced, so Amazon was always a pretty easy choice over the national chains.

My understanding is that Amazon also fixes its prices, based on what it “thinks” you’ll pay. The price offered to you might not be the same as that offered to a friend of yours, or someone across the country.

On the other hand, I’m glad I’m not forced to read everything on a blurry little screen. Plus my paper-type books don’t have DRM, and they never crash. Maybe rumors of the death of bookstores are greatly exaggerated.

Pretty much an exact recap of the Blockbuster Saga: Big retail chain crushes plucky competitors under uncaring logistical might, basically removes all reasons other than price and warehouse-grade selection for choosing one place over another, realizes too late that Netflix has even more uncaring logistical might than they do, costs less, and at least the impersonal customer service is handled by a (mostly) usable website.

I remember hearing about a place that called itself “Best Buy” who executed a similar strategy with great success…

Price discrimination is perfectly legal in the U.S. Colluding with other vendors to maintain high market prices is not.

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Netflix has great phone customer service. Very fast and they generally get things fixed right away. So does Amazon.

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I was sitting in a sports bar (don’t ask) with some cow-orkers a few years ago and showing a fellow a viddy on me phone when he says, “I could never watch TV on such a tiny screen.” I pointed to the television on the opposite wall where we had been watching some kind of head butting exercise and held my phone out at arms distance, “I have to hold my phone way out here to make it as small as that tv over there.” Everybody’s jaws fell to the floor. “Wow.” They all had smart phones the next monday.

When you go to a movie and there’s a guy sitting in the center of the front row? That’s me.

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Me too. I hate going to films with folks who sit at the back. I know people who will sit right at the crowded back of the bus when there’re seats at the front right next to the doors. You know, where there’s working suspension. NOT over the enormous, bouncy live axle. I swear it’s vestigial high-school ‘cool kid’ conditioning. They’re in their forties as well…

I always sit in one of the first few rows myself. Fortunately everyone I go to the movies with has the same preference.

Don’t you and @Antinous get a sore neck from looking up? That is my beef with the first few rows, you have to constantly look up at an awkward level to see the screen.

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I’ve never gotten a sore neck, but I will sit a little further back if the screen is really close to the front seats, so that I don’t have to keep moving my entire head to keep track of everything.

Personally I sit in the back of the bus so I know nothing weird is going on behind me.

Definitely gravitate towards the center for movie seating (maybe a few rows forward of the center) — it’s where the sound/3D/etc are generally tested, so it’s likely the most optimal place.

So how about that Apple price fixing?

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Well, Apple are assholes. Also, I’m easily distracted.

On the other other hand, I’m glad my middle-aged eyes aren’t forced to read all those blurry little letters on paper, and that I can bump up the font size with a button.