Apple and Amazon have agreed to end an exclusivity agreement that made Audible the only seller of audiobooks inside of iTunes.
The agreement had been in place for over a decade, since 2003, but came to an end earlier this month following complaints from German publishers and investigations by European antitrust regulators, who were concerned that the agreement was stifling competition and raising prices.
Regulators began investigating in late 2015. It appears all investigations are being suspended in light of the companies’ decisions to end the exclusivity agreement.
The change is “likely to improve competition”
“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.”
In a statement, Audible confirmed that it had removed the exclusivity provision in its agreement with Apple, and added that it will continue to offer audiobooks through iTunes. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
The European Commission said it welcomed the agreement. It said the change is “likely to improve competition” for audiobook distribution in Europe — though, since the agreement applied elsewhere, it could have the same effect globally, too.
Audible has dominated the audiobook market for years now. And with iTunes being one of the key places that consumers go to buy audiobooks, the agreement could have put serious limitations on the industry. Publishers either had to go through Audible, or miss out on a major storefront. They’ll now be able to go directly to Apple for distribution.
Update January 19th, 11:15AM ET: This story has been updated with comment from Audible.