Apple May Have Violated Antitrust Rules in Japan By Selling Subsidized iPhones Through Carriers

New Apple Store in Japan

Japanese regulators believe that Apple may have breached its antitrust rules by pushing mobile operators in Japan to sell iPhones to consumers at a lower price and then charge them higher monthly fees.

Japanese regulators believe that this move denies consumers a fair choice. The Japanese Fair Trade Commission (FTC) believes that Apple offered subsidies to major Japanese operators NTT Docomo, KDDI Group, and SoftBank Group to sell iPhones at a discount.

“Obliging carriers to offer subsidies (for iPhones) could have prevented the carriers from offering lower monthly charges and restricted competition,” the FTC said in a statement.

The FTC believes by only offering customers the option to enter into expensive monthly contracts, Apple and the carriers robbed consumers of a fair choice.

The investigation was first started by the FTC in 2016, and it has decided not to punish Apple as the company has decided to revise its contracts with carriers. Japanese carriers will now offer customers the choice to either buy the iPhone for cheap and lock themselves down into expensive monthly contracts or buy the phone without subsidies and then pay lower monthly charges.

Japan is an incredibly important market for Apple where it sells millions of iPhones every year. The company would have potentially lost hundreds of millions of customers if Apple did not sell iPhone at a subsidized rate to them.

[Via Reuters]