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Canada finds Apple's carrier deals don't hurt competition

There isn't enough to show that carriers were pushed into unfair iPhone agreements.
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France may think Apple is up to no good with its carrier deals for the iPhone, but you won't hear similar gripes from Canada. The country's Competition Bureau has determined that there isn't "sufficient evidence" to show that Apple had illegally strong-armed carriers into deals that gave it preferred treatment. While there's no question that the iPhone is a "must-have" for carriers, the regulator says, the terms only have a minor effect at most -- there's plenty of competition, and ditching Apple's agreements wouldn't significantly change the playing field.

The investigation started in 2014 after the Bureau received info hinting that Apple was placing a heavy burden on providers. As in other countries, there were concerns that carriers had to buy a minimum number of iPhones, agree to up-front retail subsidies and give Apple a "most favored nation" clause that prevented rivals from getting better treatment. What evidence exists suggests that carriers could easily "mitigate" these terms, according to the decision.

From first-hand experience, the findings appear to hold up. The Canadian market is big on the iPhone, but you're just as likely to see carriers push the latest Samsung phone or the Google Pixel line. You'll frequently see other flagship devices get more prominent treatment, or discounts that aren't offered for Apple's handsets. While this doesn't rule out the possibility of overly strict deals, it's clear that there's no international consensus on Apple's competitive stance -- it largely depends on individual markets.

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