'Ringleader' says Apple did not raise e-books prices

Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:37pm EDT
 
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By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Apple Inc executive at the center of an antitrust lawsuit by the U.S. government said on Thursday the company "didn't care" what price publishers set for e-books.

Eddy Cue said he was not surprised when publishers increased prices for new and best-selling titles after Apple entered the e-books market in 2010, but he disputed that Apple caused prices industry-wide to increase.

"I didn't raise prices," he testified in federal court.

Apple is the sole remaining defendant in a lawsuit in which it is accused of working with five major U.S. publishers to fix e-book prices and undo Amazon.com Inc's market control. The publishers all reached settlements with the U.S. government.

Cue, a 24-year veteran of Apple, was the primary negotiator with major U.S. publishers in December 2009 and January 2010 before Apple launched its iBookstore and, according to a Justice Department lawyer, the "chief ringleader" of the alleged conspiracy.

During Thursday's proceedings, Cue, 48, said he had felt "tremendous" pressure to get a deal done with the publishers quickly after former CEO Steve Jobs gave him approval in late 2009 to pursue an iBookstore for the then-under wraps iPad.

Jobs, who died in 2011, was "near the end of his life" as the January 2010 unveiling of the iPad neared, Cue said. Not getting a deal done would have meant debuting the iPad without the bookstore, he said later.

"I wanted to get it done in time for that as I wanted to get it done for him," Cue said.   Continued...

 
Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, arrives to testify in an antitrust trial brought against the company by the Department of Justice at Federal Court in New York, June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson