While Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc were working on a high-profile distribution agreement at least a few years ago, a proposal was on the table that Apple would remove ‘competing ads from search results’ on Amazon, according to documents released Wednesday from an investigation. of the US House of Representatives.
The document, which is undated but shows Apple products released in late 2017, offers rare insight into how two of the world’s most valuable companies considered using their size for special treatment of each other. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, had only a limited set of Apple products for years. Users often found used Apple products and knock-offs in some cases.
That changed in 2018 when the two announced a deal for Apple and a number of authorized resellers to market iPhones to Amazon customers in various countries in exchange for a promise from Amazon to strip its site of Apple products from third-party merchants. that are not authorized by Apple. Investigators from the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel asked for documents related to the deal, publishing a slide presentation titled “Apple Confidential” that appeared to discuss the principles and proposed terms.
One was that, according to the document, Amazon would have a “differentiated Apple customer experience” that would consist of “competing ads removed from search results,” product detail pages, and checkout pages. It suggested that the ad treatment would be the same “as for Amazon products.” Another was that Amazon’s ‘Buy Box’ would be disabled ‘for limited situations agreed by Apple’. The Buy Box is Amazon’s automated recommendation that a merchant should get the sale from multiple sellers of the same item, and whose non-public algorithms greatly influence the success of independent sellers.
It was unclear whether the proposals were ultimately discussed or part of the final agreement. Amazon and Apple did not immediately comment.