Apple's Carrousel du Louvre store in Paris
The investigation, which is said to be part of a larger probe into the relationships between mobile phone makers and wireless carriers, was first reported by French television news channel BFM TV and echoed by the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch. It joins a similar inquiry underway by the European Commission.
Tensions are high between foreign government regulators and American tech companies as events like the recent NSA spying scandal spark concerns about privacy and data protection. Apple, Google (with its Android operating system), and Microsoft (in concert with recent acquistion Nokia) control almost 100 percent of the European smartphone market.
The finance ministry's probe appears to be unrelated to Cupertino's other legal troubles in the western European country ? the iPhone maker is already the subject of two ongoing antitrust examinations by France's Autorite de la Concurrence, the rough French equivalent of the United States's Federal Trade Commission. One investigation focuses on claims that Apple puts its French resellers at an unfair disadvantage compared to the company's first-party retail stores, while the other is looking into the practices of mobile application stores like Apple's App Store and Google's Google Play store.