EU watchdog snuffles around Apple distribution deals

EU watchdogs are snuffling around Apple’s iPhone distribution deals.

Anti-trust regulators are concerned about allegations that Apple may not have won such a sizable chunk of smartphone market with its rounded rectangle design after all.

iPhone distribution deals with mobile telecoms operators were aimed at shutting out rival smartphones makers, it is alleged.

A nine-page questionnaire sent to mobile telecoms companies last week and obtained by Reuters suggests a stiff reaction from the European Commission, which says such behaviour may breach EU antitrust rules.

The questionnaire asked about handset subsidies and marketing for outfits which carried Apple’s smartphones and tablets.

Such surveys are a typical procedure in antitrust cases which helps the Commission determine whether to open a case against companies or reject complaints.

It is not clear what these agreements actually were, but the Commission thinks that they might have resulted in other smartphone manufacturers being shut out from the market.

The questionnaire asks if Apple obliged its partners to buy a minimum volume of iPhones, provide preferential treatment for marketing iPhones, set a certain level of subsidies and ensure Apple receives the same or better terms given to rivals.

Regulators were particularly interested to find out if Apple restricted the companies from using the iPhone 5 in their 4G/LTE networks.