EU official downplays iPod competition worries

MUNICH, Germany Tue Mar 27, 2007 8:49am EDT

An Apple iPod Shuffle (foreground) and iPod Nanos are shown in San Francisco, California, September 12, 2006. A top European Commission official raised questions on Tuesday about whether competition authorities needed to regulate Apple's iPod music players. REUTERS/Dino Vournas

An Apple iPod Shuffle (foreground) and iPod Nanos are shown in San Francisco, California, September 12, 2006. A top European Commission official raised questions on Tuesday about whether competition authorities needed to regulate Apple's iPod music players.

Credit: Reuters/Dino Vournas

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MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - A top European Commission official raised questions on Tuesday about whether competition authorities needed to regulate Apple's (AAPL.O) iPod music players.

Some critics have called for measures to force Apple to make the music it sells on its online iTunes music store compatible with mp3 music players, other than its own iPods.

"Before we jump in to regulate competition on the market it is worth asking whether competition is actually harmed," the Commission's director general for competition, Philip Lowe, said at an antitrust conference in Munich, Germany.

"Is there not vigorous competition between different bundles of mp3 players and music libraries?," said Lowe, the second-highest competition official in the EU.

Earlier this month, Europe's Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva called for changes to iTunes to make it more compatible with other formats before clarifying she was not suggesting legal action should be taken.

Consumer rights organizations from Germany, France, Finland and Norway have agreed to campaign jointly against iTunes.

Norway, which is not in the EU, said in January that Apple must liberalize its music download system by October 1 or face legal action.

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