Apple executive Eddy Cue didn’t get a chance to enjoy WWDC in its entirety because earlier today he was in New York City testifying about Apple’s dealings with book publishers amid allegations that Apple colluded with publishers to artificially raise the price of e-books across the industry.
While on the stand, Cue didn’t deny that the price of e-books had risen in the wake of Apple getting into the e-book market. He did however clarify that the rise in e-books pricing wasn’t the result of backhanded and behind-the-scenes maneuvering from Apple, but rather the result of publishers on the whole being unsatisfied with their current contracts with Amazon.
Cue was the chief negotiator in deals with the publishers that allowed them to set prices as high as $14.99 for sales in Apple’s new iBookstore. But he denied that the deals were calculated to force Amazon into similar agreements that would raise its prices as well.
Jobs closely monitored the negotiations but was “indifferent” about the outcome for Amazon, Cue testified. However, when asked if Jobs knew that there was a chance that once the iBookstore launched, publishers would withhold best sellers and new releases from Amazon, he responded, “I believe so, sure. Smart guy.”
Cue also testified that he was wholly unaware that the publishers he was negotiating with were also talking to each other independently of Apple.
The DOJ initially went after Apple and five big publishing companies for e-book price fixing back in April of 2012. Since then, each publishing house has settled with the DOJ, thus leaving Apple the only party willing to battle it out in court.
When Tim Cook was asked about the trial during his recent appearance at the All Things D conference, he called the trial “bizarre,” noting that Apple wasn’t going to settle and effectively admit to something it didn’t do.
Cue’s testimony on Thursday marked the end of this week’s proceedings. The trial will resume next Monday and scheduled to wrap up late next week.