TUAW has covered the US Department of Justice price-fixing case against Apple for the past several years. Now an email sent from late Apple CEO Steve Jobs to James Murdoch of News Corporation (parent company of HarperCollins publishers) is being interpreted by the DOJ as showing that Apple and HarperCollins conspired with other publishers to raise ebook process. John Paczkowski at AllThingsD pointed out yesterday that the DOJ might be taking the email out of context.
The seemingly incriminating portion of Jobs’ email is this: “Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream e-books market at $12.99 and $14.99.” As Paczkowski points out, reading the entire email, it appears that Jobs was simply using those price points as “price caps in broader pricing tiers” and that he “openly concedes that the agency model he’s proposing may well fail.”
Jobs wrote “We simply don’t think the e-book market can be successful with pricing higher than $12.99 or $14.99. Heck, Amazon is selling these books at $9.99, and who knows maybe they are right and we will fail even at $12.99. But we’re willing to try at the prices we proposed. We are not willing to try at higher prices, because we are pretty sure we’ll all fail.”
Paczkowski notes that this is just “one piece of evidence in a much larger case”, but that the DOJ appears to have “cherry-picked a quote for maximum effect.” The full exhibit from which the Jobs email was taken is included below.