back to article Our irony meter exploded: Apple moans ebook price-fixing watchdog is too EXPENSIVE

Apple has filed a court motion complaining that Michael Bromwich, the court-appointed antitrust regulator overseeing the fruity firm in the wake of its ebook price-fixing shenanigans, is too charging too much for his services. "Mr Bromwich appears to be simply taking advantage of the fact that there is no competition here or, in …

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Ouch

The irony is so lovely.

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Re: Ouch

At $1100 per hour, he could almost afford to be an Apple customer.

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Re: Ouch

Perhaps Apple is angling to have another handful of sand thrown in the vaseline.

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Happy

Re: Ouch

The irony is so lovely

Remember, irony is hypocrisy done with style.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ouch

" In his first two weeks in the job, Bromwich has invoiced Apple for $138,432 for his services, including a 15 per cent surcharge because he's assigned the role to his consultancy business"

Alledgedly charge almost $70,000 a week and a allegedly a 15% surcharge as (it would seem - allegedly) rather than do the job direct via the law firm he works for - re-assign it to his consultancy business he also allegedly works for and charge 15% more - allegedly?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ouch

I don't get it

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FAIL

seems slippery at best...

from a company that prides itself on not paying taxes. Hypocrites.

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Paris Hilton

Re: seems slippery at best...

What has that to do with the tribute to the guy with guns & badges?

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If I could charge $1100 an hour then slag the work off to a consultant and have others pay that bill, I'd be out of the blooming country as well.

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The way I red it, he's assigning the work to himself, in his other role as a consultant, for an additional 15% fee, something that would be a clear conflict of interest if not for the fact that attorneys, as officers of the court are defined to be incapable of having a conflict of interest, or so I understood in a slightly different context a number of years ago.

Hard to feel sorry for Apple, though.

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Anonymous Coward

Monopoly Power

Well, Apple is arguably a monopoly in the business of content distribution services; a new industry which needs Government review, oversight, and supplier protections.

Purchase of an iDevice feeds into Apple's content distribution services. It's a walled garden approach. If Apple doesn't like your content, they can prevent distribution. Also, with ~20% of the purchase price of software, content, or musical works sale going to Apple (regardless of production or wholesale price), Apple controls the market.

It's a Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment; but the only way others can compete against Apple's distribution services, and walled-garden approach, to prevent further growth of their marketplace monopoly power... is ultimately... to avoid purchase of their products.

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Headmaster

Re: Monopoly Power

When it comes to books, the whole subject of this case, the walled garden has several wide open archways leading in. Nothing stops you opening any ePub book in iBooks, or using one of the multiple other ebook reader apps, including Kindle.

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Re: Monopoly Power

Perhaps read up on the last major US anti-trust case, with Microsoft, Internet explorer, and Netscape.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hear of Amazon?

"Well, Apple is arguably a monopoly in the business of content distribution services"

"Ever hear of Amazon?"

Ever hear of iTunes?

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Re: Monopoly Power

They are a monopoly (perfectly legal) in respect of the iStore, and used that as an inducement to the five publishers to engage in illegal price fixing for their mutual benefit.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Monopoly Power

So you can't upload videos or music purchased elsewhere? of course you can.

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Mushroom

Re: Hear of Amazon?

Ever hear of iTunes?

Actually no because f*ck that sh*t.

And I do vervently hope any of the idiots who complain about Apple rogering them while they are "forced" to buy their stuff, the whole Apple leadership, the overpaid "antitrust" legal fatcat and his aides, as well as the price-fixing book publisher leadership all get uncurable but ultimately fatal STDs.

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Re: Hear of Amazon?

Ever heard of television?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Monopoly Power

"Perhaps read up on the last major US anti-trust case, with Microsoft, Internet explorer, and Netscape."

W T F!

Erm, it's 2013! I know you may not realise based on your last decade phone, but a little more relevance would be nice?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hear of Amazon?

@AC 29-11-2013 20:16

"Ever hear of iTunes?"

Wow, you really are as dumb as a bag of bricks!

- So someone claims Apple have a monopoly in content distribution services (we have to infer that the person making this claim is referring to their iTunes service - you know, the way Apple distributes content).

- Someone makes a counter claim using the example of a competing content distribution service (Amazon) to show that Apple don't have a monopoly on content distribution services.

- You use iTunes as an example of how Apple have a monopoly on content distribution services (failing to make any inroads into the argument that the fact there are multiple content distribution services blows the claims of a monopoly out of the water).

To summarize:

Post 1: "iTunes is a monopoly"

Post 2: "No it's not, ever heard of Amazon"

You: "Ever heard of iTunes"

Everyone else reading this thinks "Yes, we've all heard of iTunes. In the first post, idiot."

You need to read this, hang your head in shame and then sterilize yourself before you procreate, for the good of humanity; you mouth breathing oxygen thief.

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Re: Monopoly Power

True, but considering that U.S. Judges consider "precedent" set as far back as the late 1700s in their rulings (and sometimes precedent set during the Roman empire), I would say that it's both relatively *very* recent and quite relevant.

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Re: Hear of Amazon?

"Ever hear of iTunes?" Wow, you really are as dumb as a bag of bricks!"

Apple managed to increase the pricing of ebooks for the entire market. There is no arguing that that is exercising significant market power which is the issue - you're missing the point by saying that there are other people in the market so Apple isn't controlling it.

By that line of argument Microsoft wasn't a monopoly either, even though they had massive market power and were using it to eliminate competitors to the detriment of consumers - and got done for it (sadly too late in the end).

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Re: Hear of Amazon?

Well I don't give a shit. I *refuse* to buy an ebook.

Now if I can download a PDF for free I will. But if you want me to pay, and then find it has a DRM turd wrapped round it -- no thanks. I'll keep my money in my bank account thank you very much (until, of course RBS chooses to steal it).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hear of Amazon?

@Chet Mannly

You should read my post again. I'm not saying anything except that the guys' debating methodology is complete balls. I only restated what the participants on each side said - I made no statements of my own position on the subject under discussion.

Although perhaps you should look up the definition of a monopoly - significant control of a market does not necessarily mean a monopoly exists. Apple's actions could more correctly be defined as bloody good negotiation skills rather than abuse of a monopoly position - the creation of a cartel in fact which, whilst it may have the same effects on the market as a monopoly, is not actually a monopoly.

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Really hard to take sides

Abusive lawyer vs Apple, hard to pick who I'd rather lose.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really hard to take sides

I'd take the side of Apple.

Apple likely hired Al Gore as a business director to oversee issues such as this; and manage Political Process; and ensure the Apple Core Team remains coated with teflon.

You saw how Al Gore assisted with this; when there was an inquiry related to backdated stock options... correct?

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Re: Really hard to take sides

well hopefully neither side will lose , or win, and be locked in a long and bitter dispute that just drains the resources of both sides,

kind of like Kramer vs kramer only more tedious and no-one really gives a f**k

the only downside being different lawyers win through fees.

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Anonymous Coward

Ooh bitter

If I could write what I really want to write (albeit language my mum would never use) I'm sure I'd get banned so all I have to say is;

How you like them apples, Apple?

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Happy

"...billing structure seems slippery at best..."

Sounds like they're perfect for each other, then.

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Well punishment is supposed to sting, isn't it?

That said, the lawyer does seem to be gouging a bit deep.

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Dear Apple: You're sucking it up wrong.

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Money-go-round

I would imagine the lawyers is out of the country setting up an offshore shell to stash the cash in - Apple will then be able to make the transfers direct from one of their tax-free shells and they can then save a few bob.

The American system of making the infringing party pay for their oversight, does have some natural justice embedded in it. Just need to make the lawyer pay for their own oversight and everything will be alright then... Obviously you would think governments are there do to the 'regulation' thing, not over-priced lawyers. Then again, even at €16m a go this would probably be cheaper than the same job in the EU.

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Joke

Is the wage cost a tax write off?

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Yes, but just to be pedantic these aren't wages since the guy isn't employed by Apple.

That reduces the cost by the marginal tax rate Apple is paying in the US (39.6%) but charging $1,100/hr is still pretty ridiculous if it is the most Apple has ever paid for a lawyer. For a company involved in so many lawsuits, you'd think if anyone knew what top billing rates were, it'd be Apple.

The guy seems to be abusing his position knowing Apple isn't able to shop around. Must be nice to have a court-appointed monopoly!

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Re. Apple knows lawyer rates

Given the amount of work they must get it may be that Apple's own lawyers give a hefty discount?!

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Anonymous Coward

No Worries

A few less TV ads will make up for the " iLoss".

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Anonymous Coward

Did Apple make a sworn statement that they had never paid that much for a lawyer?

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iDid iThey iEven

iConsider iHow iHypocritical iThey iSound i?

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Re: iDid iThey iEven

iSee

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Expensive, locked in, conservative services...

Apple knows all about that...

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Anonymous Coward

Get it right up them

No sympathy and I hope he takes them for every penny he can get.

Apple ripped off tens of millions of people who had no connection with Apple products or services so they can go fuck themselves. Should slap another $100mill fine on them for being whinging racketeers.

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The weird thing is that books are all different. For each title, there is only one publisher, so there's no real possibility of competition driving the price down; there are no other suppliers. Fore books it's arguable that the author or publisher should set the end user price, and the distributor (Apple or Amazon) should charge the author/publisher a distribution fee. Apple likes this, because price is no longer a factor in the buying decision. Amazon doesn't like it, because they are establishing a monopoly by selling below cost.

There does seem to be some validity to Apple's complaint that the way this has been done means the judge has set herself up as Apple's litigation adversary, with no possibility of legal representation for Apple, when the supervision should have been independent, with reports back to the judge open to Apple to inspect and respond to. That would leave the judge as impartial judge, with legal representation available to Apple.

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Anonymous Coward

The real issue?

Is that he is being paid to do a job but then because he doesn't have the appropriate knowledge or experience is then outsourcing the legal work to another firm of lawyers, for which he charges 15% admin fee for their services. If Apple are forking out US$1100 an hour I imagine they'd expect the person they are paying to know what they are doing.

There is also no budget, so it could go on for a very long time.

I'd say the real flaw is that any system allows for such a situation to take place.

Perhaps the actual solution to this is to ensure that any future agreements Apple makes with publishers are subject to external legal review. Or would that not bring quite as much money into the system?

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Re: The real issue?

I'd say the real flaw is that any system allows for such a situation to take place.

It does seem bizarre. The court seems to have effectively granted the regulator an open-ended license to take as much money as he wants. While Apple may have agreed to being placed under regulator control as part of the settlement I doubt that is what they expected or foresaw.

I don't have any sympathy for Apple over their guilty behaviour but this does not appear to be reasonable.

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Anonymous Coward

WTF ?

Pot.... Kettle...... Black !

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Trollface

Re: WTF ?

Chances are, however, that they wouldn't use the words "Pot" or "Kettle" but something silly like "iWater" and deliver it in a glossy white finish.

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At $1,100.00 per hour I'd be out of the country a lot of the time too.

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Anonymous Coward

taking advantage of the fact that there is no competition here

I didn't realize Apple-people would ever display such remarkable sense of humour, given the (wider) context. Humour, yes, as I can't imagine them being so stupid to overlook the irony. Very good, Apple, very good indeed.

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Go

New product

the iRony, from Apple. Coming this Christmas to a store near you!

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