EU, Apple agree on price of iTunes

Cost of music downloads will be standardized

LONDON — A European Union investigation into computer giant Apple has been dropped after the American company agreed to standardize its pricing policies across Europe for its iTunes music downloads.

The EU brought its case against Apple after receiving a complaint from British consumers’ association Which? about the high cost of iTunes downloads in the U.K., compared with elsewhere in Europe. British consumers have been paying about 10% more for songs than their equivalents elsewhere on the continent.

In response to the probe, Apple today announced that it plans to charge the same price for downloads across the European Union, prompting the European Commission to cease action against the iTunes business.

In a statement Wednesday, the commission said that it “welcomes Apple’s announcement to equalize prices for downloads of songs from its iTunes online store in Europe within the next six months. This puts an end to the different treatment of U.K. consumers who currently have to pay higher prices for downloads.”

The statement also cleared the record industry of collusion in setting prices for downloads. “The commission’s antitrust proceedings have also clarified that it is not agreements between Apple and the major record companies that determine how the iTunes store is organized in Europe. Consequently, the commission does not intend to take further action in this case.”

Commenting on Apple’s announcement, European competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “The commission is very much in favor of solutions that allow consumers to benefit from a truly single market for music downloads.”