There was mixed news for Apple on Wednesday. As the tech giant celebrated five years of its app store – and the success and riches that come with that – a US judge rejected its strategy for selling electronic books on the internet.
On the plus side, applications – the programmes downloadable to smartphones and tablets for things like taking pictures or listening to music – have mushroomed.
There are now 900,000 available. In five years 50 billion have been downloaded and in the first three months of this year alone apps generated 1.16 billion euros, with 70 percent of that going to the app developers while Apple takes 30 percent.
They have led the mobile boom, crossed over to Apple’s rival Android operating system and helping the decline of traditional desktop and laptop computers.
The dampener on the five year celebrations was that on Wednesday a federal judge in New York ruled that Apple conspired with five major publishers to raise the retail prices of e-books.
It was accused of doing that to undercut online retailer Amazon.com’s e-book dominance,
The decision could expose the company to substantial damages.Steve Berman, a partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, who is pursuing consumer class-action litigation against Apple, called the decision “a very big deal”. “It exposes Apple to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, which is what we’ll ask for,” Berman said.
The company had argued that it never conspired with the publishers to raise e-book prices and it plans to appeal.
Only Apple went to trial, while the publishers agreed to pay more than $166 million (129 million euros) combined to benefit consumers.
Last year, Apple settled a separate case over e-book pricing with the European Commission’s competition watchdog, without admitting wrongdoing.