3 min Devices

FTC investigates iPhone deal between Amazon and Apple

FTC investigates iPhone deal between Amazon and Apple

The American watchdog Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would investigate a deal between Amazon and Apple. Last year, the two companies concluded a deal to sell Apple iPhones and other products directly through the online store.

With the deal, Apple was able to sell directly via Amazon for the first time. As a result, hundreds of legitimate sellers of cheap and refurbished Apple products were expelled from the platform.

One of those salesmen now tells The Verge that the FTC has contacted him. It’s American John Bumstead, who sells refurbished MacBooks.

FTC lawyers and an economist questioned him about the impact of the Amazon-Apple deal on his business. Bumstead was told in November that he had to leave Amazon a few months later.


What the purpose of the conversation was, the group did not disclose. However, at least one member of the group appears to be a member of the Tech Task Force, which the FTC set up in February to monitor competition in the tech sector.

They wanted to know how Amazon and eBay work. I described how a listing on Amazon works. You don’t necessarily have to make it. You can tie yourself to an existing listing, says Bumstead. If the listing is removed, there is a chance that you will not be allowed to sell the product.

According to Bumstead, that’s also how Amazon took other vendors off its platform. They created a set of new listings for the people who were certified, and had these people sell through those listings. The rest were abandoned.

Fire Gating

Experts argue that the deal between Amazon and Apple could be grounds for a competition complaint. Sally Hubbard, an antitrust expert and director of OpenMarkets Institute, states that closing a deal with a brand to exclude third-party vendors is called brand gating.

It is often used to prevent the sale of counterfeit products or cheaper versions of a product. According to Hubbard, this happens a lot on Amazon and may be illegal.

You put a fence around a brand and tell all sellers who sell stuff of that brand that they can no longer sell this product on the platform, unless the brand allows it. But of course the brand won’t let you sell if you’re below the recommended retail price. But that’s illegal under competition law.


Bumstead says that a significant number of cheaper Apple products have been removed from Amazon. When they removed those listings, they also removed consumer access to most of the old MacBooks, says Bumstead. Amazon has only created new listings for newer machines.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.