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Spain hits Apple and Amazon with $218 million combined antitrust fine

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Apple's consolidation of its third party iPhone, Mac, and iPad resellers to Amazon has induced Spain's antitrust agency to levy a $218 million fine in total on the pair.

Spain's Comision Nacional De Los Mercados Y La Competencia (CNMC) announced in July 2021 that it was investigating if Apple and Amazon have unfairly colluded to "reduce competition in the Internet retail market for electronic products."

Specifically, the group was looking for proof of any deals that the pair made limiting sale of Apple products to Amazon itself. Two years later, it appears to have found the proof it was looking for, and has fined the pair 194.1 million euros in total.

"We reject the suggestion made by CNMC that Amazon benefits from excluding sellers from its market place, as our business model hinges precisely on the success of the companies selling through Amazon," Amazon said in a statement to Reuters on Tuesday morning.

Both Apple and Amazon have stated that the deal benefits consumers, protects buyers from fake products, and increases the number and magnitude of discounts offered to customers.

Of the 194.1 million euro fine, Apple was hit with 143.6 million, and Amazon 50.5 million euro. Both companies have already said that they will appeal the matter, and they have two months to do so.

Apple selling directly in Amazon began at the same time almost worldwide. The deal, which applied to the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain started in November 2018.

Prior to the deal, the products were either not available or only sold through the third-party marketplace. This process led to products being offered to Amazon customers at varying price points, and not necessarily in perfect condition.

In the US, terms of the Apple-Amazon agreement mean that resellers must either be authorized by Apple, or buy at least $2.5 million in refurbished inventory every 90 days. The latter must come directly from Apple or through a third party with over $5 billion in annual sales, typically meaning carriers and national retailers. It's not clear if the terms in Spain are the same.

Third-party vendors not meeting those purchase thresholds were prevented from selling Apple products on the Amazon store in January 2019.

In the United States, most of the Specialists in the country doing Apple resale have closed, with the rate accelerating in the last few years. The first wave started and continues with Apple's retail store expansion, and the Amazon deal was and is another nail in the coffin.