AN EXCLUSIVE AUDIOBOOK AGREEMENT between Apple and Amazon has come to an end, following pressure from European regulators.
The European Commission (EC) had argued that the deal, which has made Audible the only seller of audiobooks inside of iTunes since 2003, "stifled competition" and raised prices of audiobooks.
Apple and Amazon this week agreed to end the exclusivity agreement, in turn also putting an end to an investigation by German regulators that began back in 2015.
At the time, reports had claimed that more than 90 per cent of all audiobook downloads in Germany come via the Audible or Amazon sites, or Apple's iTunes store.
"With the deletion of the exclusivity agreement, Apple will now have the opportunity to purchase digital audiobooks from other suppliers," Andreas Mundt, president of Germany's antitrust agency, said in a statement. "This will enable a wider range of offer and lower prices for consumers."
The EC added that the move is "likely to improve competition" for audiobook distribution in Europe, adding that since the agreement applied elsewhere, it could have the same affect globally, too.
"The removal of these exclusivity obligations will allow for further competition in a fast-growing and innovative market and allow European consumers broader access to downloadable audiobooks," it said in a statement.
In a statement given to The Verge, Audible confirmed that it had removed the exclusivity provision in its agreement with Apple, which means its audiobooks will now be available through third-party providers. It added that it will continue to offer audiobooks through iTunes.
Seperately, the EC last year opened an antitrust investigation into Amazon's audio book contracts. It alleges that Amazon's contracts include clauses that required publishers to inform the company about more favourable terms offered to its competitors. µ
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