EU to drop Apple probes after firm's policy changes

A man stands next to a giant advertisement for an iPhone 4 displayed at a shop in Bangkok September 24, 2010. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators will scrap two investigations into Apple Inc’s iPhone after the company allowed cross-border repair services and eased restrictions on applications for its popular smartphone.

The European Commission, the watchdog across the 27-country European Union, announced its decision on Saturday, saying the changes by Apple would allow consumers to choose between different alternatives.

The EU executive had launched two preliminary investigations in the spring into Apple’s business practices related to the iPhone.

It said then that it was concerned about Apple’s policy which specified repair services for the smartphone only in the country of purchase and the requirement that applications developers could only use Apple’s programing tools to write iPhone apps.

The Commission said Apple’s policy changes had removed such concerns. It said the company had announced on Saturday cross-border iPhone warranty services. Apple said early this month that it was easing restrictions for building iPhone and IPad applications.

“European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia welcomes Apple’s announcement that it has relaxed restrictions on the development tools for iPhone applications (apps) and introduced cross-border iPhone warranty repair services within the European Union,” the European Commission said in a statement on Saturday.

“In light of these policy changes, the Commission intends to close the investigations into these matters,” the EU antitrust watchdog said.

The Commission can fine companies up to 10 percent of their global revenues for breaching EU antitrust rules. It has slapped billions of euros in penalties on Microsoft and Intel for violations.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Ron Askew