These exclusivity rights required Apple to source only from Amazon's audible unit and prevented Amazon from distributing any music platform other than Apple's iTunes store.
"With the deletion of the exclusivity agreement, Apple will now have the opportunity to purchase digital audiobooks from other suppliers", Andreas Mundt, president of Germany's antitrust agency, said in a statement. The German Federal Cartel Office has been investigating the deal since 2015 and with the European Union joining it, the companies would have to end the exclusive pact or risk antitrust charges. In total, more than 90 percent of all audiobook downloads in Germany are made through Amazon's Audible service, or via iTunes, making the pairing of the two companies particularly troublesome in the eyes of the association.
The German cartel office said on Thursday it had closed its investigation into Apple and Amazon. "These companies are avowedly on the way to establish a monopoly".
Apple and Amazon likely had little choice in the matter.
"Whenever dominant players abuse their position in the market in order to achieve monopolistic market structures, they endanger quality and diversity in the book market and ultimately limit the choice available to consumers", concluded Skipis, appearing content with both the European Commission and Bundeskartellamt stance.
The decision was agreed earlier this month following talks between the EC and the German Federal Cartel Office, largely in part due to the country's publishers being the ones to bring the case to the EC. Mundt explained that this change will enable a wider range of offers and lower prices for consumers.
One area in particular that had caught the attention of the EC was the deal between Apple and Amazon to that meant the pair ran the two largest distributors of audiobooks in the world, with no room for any smaller third-party operations to compete.