updated 09:40 am EDT, Mon May 3, 2010
Tied to locks on development process
Apple will soon be the subject of a US antitrust inquiry, according to a source contacted by the New York Post. The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are, at present, said to be just days away from deciding which organization will launch the probe, looking into whether Apple might be unfairly controlling development of iPhone and iPad apps. The company recently banned the use of third-party tools, most notably Adobe's Flash cross-compiler.
Apple insists that the ban is a matter of ensuring quality, but the probe is expected to ask whether it unfairly skews competition by forcing companies to develop either for Apple or for everyone else. If examination shows some merit to the case, matters may then be elevated into a full-scale investigation, including a subpoena to Apple requesting details about its development policy. DoJ and FTC officials have refused to comment; Apple has not returned calls.
The company has fallen under increasing fire for the App Store. The platform is the only sanctioned way of installing apps on Apple handhelds, and developers are not only prevented from using third-party development tools but third-party APIs. On top of this the company has been accused of hypocrisy in content standards, for instance by banning most "overtly sexual" apps while continuing to carry Playboy.