Eddie Cue on the price-fixing case: I’d do it again
With the court date for Apple’s appeal of the July 2013 antitrust ruling coming up in a couple weeks, the topic of just how Apple is going to get out of the hole it dug for itself is on the minds of many pundits. If this Fortune interview of Eddie Cue is to be believed, Apple’s answer is to dig the hole even deeper.
That article starts with an overview of the entire 5 year long agency saga, starting with the initial meetings between Cue and 6 major US trade publishers and continuing to today. It also includes some telling quotes from Cue, including:
Many are surprised Apple didn’t settle long ago. The case seems to be more about reputation than money. (Under a conditional settlement worked out in June, if Apple loses the appeal, it will pay $450 million in damages and attorney fees. If it wins, it pays nothing.)
“We feel we have to fight for the truth,” says Cue. “Luckily, Tim feels exactly like I do,” he continues, referring to Apple CEO Tim Cook, “which is: You have to fight for your principles no matter what. Because it’s just not right.”
Given that the 5 publishers accused of conspiring with Apple settled before the lawsuit went to trial, I’m not sure what Apple stands to gain here other than the self-satisfaction that they fought to their last breath.
I guess principle is as good of a reason as any to continue to litigate this case, and if Cue had limited to talking about principle then he could have come out of this looking good. Instead he made a mistake which will almost certainly come back to haunt Apple.
The end of the article closed out with this Cue quote:
As for Cue, how does he look back at this nightmare?
“If I had it to do all over again, I’d do it again,” he says. “I’d just take better notes.”
Yeah, that wasn’t smart. Viewed from the right perspective, that could be made to look as bad the infamous Steve Jobs quote about ebook prices in the iBookstore.
As you may recall, at the iPad launch event Walt Mossberg asked jobs why anyone would pay $14.99 for a book which was available on Amazon for $9.99. "That won’t be the case,” Jobs responded. “The prices will be the same."
If you look at it one way, Jobs is referring to the MFN clause which gave Apple the right to drop the ebook’s price to match the price in the Kindle Store. But if you look at it another way, that was a tacit admission that Apple new that Amazon’s ebook prices would be going up.
Guess how that Cue quote will be spun by the next lawyers to file an antitrust against Apple?