A long-running trial in which Apple were accused of artificially inflating the prices of their iPods has ended in defeat for the companies customers and resellers. Videotape evidence featuring late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was used in the trial, with Apple being found not guilty of anti-competitive behavior.
The case was centered upon a 2006 update to iTunes software which meant that iPods were the only devices capable of playing music purchased through Apple’s online store. Lawyers representing businesses and customers said that the move violated US antitrust laws, and were seeking $350m in damages. Emails sent by Mr. Jobs were also used as evidence in the trial. 8 million iPod customers and 500 resellers were represented in the trial, which would have cost Apple $1bn due to the way that anti-competition damage rewards are tripled under US law.
The software was changed in 2009 to remove the restrictions, but only after iTunes customers could only play songs bought through the service on Apple devices for three years. Lawyers argued that this artificially increased the price of iPods. An email sent by Jobs showed his concern about a rival store called MusicMatch. Part of the message read “We need to make sure that when Music Match launches their download music store they cannot use iPod.”
The jurors decided that the update improved the user experience, which meant that Apple did not act in an anti-competitive manner. The company recently discontinued its iconic iPod Classic device, saying that it could no longer access the parts needed to build it.
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