Apple E-Book Price Fixing Testimony: Eddy Cue Admits That Prices Increased After iBookstore Debuted

The Apple e-Book pricing fixing lawsuit is currently underway, and, on Thursday morning, Vice President for Internet software and services, Eddy Cue, testified about the company’s part in allegedly increasing the cost of e-book sales.

The Department of Justice is suing Apple for what it sees as an antitrust maneuver conducted by the tech giant.

Eddy Cue was responsible for negotiating publisher deals ahead of the Apple iBookstore launch in 2010. The DOJ has accused Apple of colluding with publishers to switch the e-book industry to an agency model.

The Department of Justice specifically claims that Apple forced higher prices on Amazon and other e-book sellers at a time when a standard $10 price point was being observed.

During his Thursday testimony in the Apple e-book price fixing case, Eddy Cue admitted that e-book pricing increased immediately after Apple launched the iBookstore platform. Cue claims that pricing increased because publishers “expressed to us [Apple] that they wanted higher prices.”

When asked if he thought publishers were working together in an attempt to collude over e-book pricing, Cue said he wasn’t aware of any collusion.

Eddy Cue then testified that publishers all had problems with different aspects of the proposed iBookstore contract. Cue notes: “If they talked together, I assumed it would be easier to get the deals done.”

Because of those joint negotiations, Apple has been accused of e-book price fixing. Cue insists he “wasn’t trying to negotiate” for the entire e-book market.

Cue also testified to the fact that he wasn’t attempting to fix customer complaints raised against Apple.

What we know at this time is that immediately following the release of the Apple iBookstore prices for e-books quickly rose above the $10 price point, a price level that Amazon had fought hard to protect.

Do you think Apple engaged in e-book price fixing in order to push up the revenues it earns from digital book sales?