Both the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office contacted the companies with concerns that their exclusivity deal was hindering competition in downloadable audiobook distribution in Europe. The termination of that deal means that Apple can source audiobooks from alternative suppliers, and that publishers and content aggregators will be able to enter into distribution agreements directly with Apple.
On 5 January 2017, Audible and Apple agreed to remove all exclusivity obligations governing the supply and distribution of audiobooks. These exclusivity obligations, which predated Amazon's acquisition of Audible in 2008, required Apple to source exclusively from Audible and Audible not to supply music digital platforms other than Apple's iTunes store. The removal of these exclusivity obligations will allow for further competition in a fast growing and innovative market and allow European consumers broader access to downloadable audiobooks.
The European Commission had been looking into the exclusivity arrangement since it received a complaint from the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels), which objects to various practices used by Audible, including its exclusive supply of audiobooks to Apple's iTunes Store. A substantially similar complaint was submitted by the same association to the German Federal Cartel Office, which opened an investigation against Audible and Apple on 16 November 2015.