Japanese regulators reportedly have told Apple that the company could be violating anti-trust regulations in the country. Today, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said that Apple's sales contracts force Japan's three largest wireless providers to sell iPhone models to consumers at a discount through the use of subsidies. But the FTC says that this deal prevents the Japanese carriers from offering lower priced monthly data plans to consumers.
For Apple, well, it is all good. Forcing the carriers to offer the iPhone via a subsidy means that the device is more affordable to Japanese consumers. And Apple is still getting paid the usual amount for its phones. Sure, the carriers have to make up the difference, but they have a signed contract guaranteeing them a profit. The only one hurt is the Japanese consumer, and well, where does any consumer fit it in the grand scheme of things?
Now that Apple has changed the sales contract, we assume that the Japanese carriers are no longer obligated to sell the iPhone at a subsidized price. That doesn't mean that the practice will abruptly come to an end in Japan, but it does mean that consumers there might have other options soon if they want to buy an iPhone.