Apple named in EU probe on eBook pricing

Apple has been named in a new probe from the European Union that is looking at allegations on anti-competitive pricing in the growing eBook market. The BBC reports that in addition to Apple, five traditional book publishers in Europe (Hachette Livre, Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck) are a part of the probe.

The EU's anti-trust watchdog group said that the probe will look into whether or not Apple and the five book publishers made illegal agreements for eBook pricing that would have restricted competition from other publishers. The probe included what were called "unannounced inspections" on the six companies back in March 2011.

The UK had already conducted its own investigation into the matter via its Office of Fair Trading. It has apparently concluded its probe but will work with the EU's new investigation which will encompass more of Europe.

Apple has been selling eBooks for its iPad via the iBook application since the tablet launched in 2010 and opened up that application for the iPhone later.

Oddly, the EU investigation doesn't seem to include Amazon, which has lead the eBook and eReader movement with the launch of the first Kindle device a few years ago.

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