Poison Apple: Price-Fixer Mastermind or E-book Innovator?

The Department of Justice has made new claims that Apple, when under the leadership of Steve Jobs, conspired to price-fix the e-book market to coincide with the 2010 launch of the iPad.

Citing Apple as the “ringmaster” in a scheme to force Amazon to raise its e-book prices from across-the-board $9.99 to much higher prices, DOJ released on Tuesday the following email between Jobs and James Murdoch (News Corporation) as evidence of the e-book pricing plot:

“Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream e-books market at $12.99 and $14.99.”

The email was provided as evidence in DOJ’s 2012 anti-trust lawsuit against Apple and several other publishing companies. DOJ has accused the group of colluding to snooker consumers and make Apple and its merry co-conspirators even richer. The government claims that the conspiracy cost consumers more than $100 million dollars over 2 years with the raising of e-book prices by $2 to $5.

Shortly after Murdoch received Jobs’ email, HarperCollins, a publishing company owned by News Corporation, agreed to the new e-book pricing.

Within the last year, the five publishing companies named in the initial lawsuit have agreed to settle, but Apple remains as the sole defendant in the court case. Apple asserts that it did not mastermind the price-fixing. Instead, it insists it was instrumental in making e-books the cutting-edge, new way that the world primarily reads books:

“We helped transform the e-book market with the introduction of the iBookstore in 2010, bringing consumers an expanded selection of e-books and delivering innovative new features. The market has been thriving and innovating since Apple’s entry, and we look forward to going to trial to defend ourselves and move forward.”

The trial is set to commence in New York on June 3rd.