Apple antitrust trial: it was the publishers that fixed eBook prices, claims Eddy Cue

Apple has told a US federal court that it was not to blame for eBook price increases, stating that it was the decision of the publishers themselves.

Eddy Cue, senior executive of iTunes at Apple and the man responsible for winning contracts with the top five publishers, denied artificially boosting prices of books to hinder popular rivals like Amazon, according to the Financial Review.

Prosecutors have amassed an impressive collection of evidence of alleged collusion, however, including several email exchanges and over 100 phone calls and hand-written notes sent between Apple executives and publishers.

The US Department of Justice alleges that Apple pressed publishers into adopting an agency model in 2009 and 2010, granting publishers the right to alter prices (a privilege usually held by retailers), while giving Apple a 30 per cent cut.

Amazon, which dominated 90 per cent of the eBook market, was forced to follow suit. The end result was an inflation of prices for consumers by as much as $4 (£2.50) per title.

Cue said that he wanted to get the eBook store ready in time to launch with the iPad because it was important to Steve Jobs, who was then nearing the end of his life. The emotional moment might tug on the heart-strings of some, but it is unlikely to wash with the court.

Cue faces another court grilling next week.