Canadian competition watchdog shutters Apple probe; says didn’t find sufficient evidence

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Apple, iPhone 8, iPhone 7S, iPhone 8

The Canadian competition watchdog has cleared Apple and dropped a two-year old probe against the iPhone maker stating that they didn’t find any evidence that could conclude that Apple has engaged in any abuse of dominance under Canada’s Competition Act.

The probe, which was opened in December 2014, was dropped by Canada’s Competition Bureau after over two years as it didn’t find the tech giant as being involved in anti-competitive behavior. The watchdog was investigating whether the contracts were affecting wireless carriers’ incentives to push iPhones over other smartphone brands. At the time of its 2008 Canada launch, Apple’s smartphone was provided exclusively by telecommunications firm Rogers, before it was eventually made available by other carriers.

The Bureau examined whether the contracts harm competition by impacting wireless carriers’ incentives to promote iPhones over other brands of smartphones, and whether they resulted in an increase in the price of handsets or wireless services. The probe, opened in December 2014 by the Competition Bureau, failed to find sufficient evidence that the tech giant had engaged in anti-competitive behavior.

The competition watchdog noted that significant effort was made to identify behavioural impacts on carriers stemming from the Apple Terms, as reflected in business documents, marketing and sales activity, as well as data relating to smartphone sales. On balance, while the evidence suggested impact on carrier decision‑making at the margins, it was not sufficient for the Bureau to conclude that there would be meaningful impact on competing OEMs or, by consequence, consumers.

As the Bureau has not found sufficient evidence to suggest Apple’s current practices have substantially lessened or prevented competition in any relevant market, or are likely to do so, the inquiry has been discontinued, the Bureau noted in the closing remarks.

The Bureau also noted that the Commissioner makes his enforcement decisions based on the available evidence. Should new and compelling evidence come to light of harm in the Canadian marketplace, the Bureau will not hesitate to take appropriate action.

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