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Apple under spotlight as Europe probes carriers for evidence of unfair iPhone sales tactics

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ios maps icon stock 1020
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The European Commission is scrutinizing Apple's iPhone sales practices to find out whether the company is unfairly squeezing out competitors, according to the Financial Times. While no formal antitrust probe has been opened, the FT saw a questionnaire sent to several European carriers asking if Apple imposes restrictions such as a minimum number of phones ordered, or a guarantee that the company will never get less favorable subsidies and sales terms than other hardware manufacturers.

The nine-page questionnaire also asks whether Apple is using technical restrictions to limit the iPhone 5's compatibility with 4G networks, said the FT. "There are also indications that certain technical functions are disabled on certain Apple products in certain countries in the EU/EEA. If the existence of such behaviour were to be confirmed, it might constitute an infringement of [antitrust law]," quotes the paper.

Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that some European carriers had submitted details of their contracts with Apple to the commission after privately complaining of unfair tactics. At the time, a spokesperson for the commission said that it would intervene if there were "indications of anti-competitive behaviour to the detriment of consumers," but cited the strength of Samsung and Android as reasons to believe that competition remains healthy. Apple claims its contracts fully comply with EU laws.