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Antitrust probe into Apple could be imminent, source claims

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.

by MacNN Staff



    Comment buried. Show
  1. TomSawyer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not surprising

    Given the level of illicit Federal intrusion into State/Corporate affairs of late, this should come as no surprise.

  1. doctor9

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Mixed feelings

    I'm one who feels that Apple, in developing & selling this product, should be able to determine what is the best method of user experience. The App Store has been a blessing and a "killer app" for the iPhone's success. I'd venture to say that a great majority of iPhone owners have no problem whatsoever with the App Store and what it may or may not allow them to use.

    On the other hand, Apple needs to understand that there are people whose profession is developing these applications. You can't be arbitrary with how you approve these submissions when then are people's livelihood on the line. They should be much more precise in the language, parameters, terms and conditions are what is appropriate for an iPhone app. Even more so, making moral and behavioral judgements on what is deemed appropriate is even more of a problem. And finally, adhere to those conditions on a consistent basis.

    My .02¢

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Beat me to it

    The previous poster beat me to it. With the anti-business attitude of the Narcissistic Community Organizer, it doesn't surprise me that they'd go after a successful company like Apple. The Bamster's technical expertise is no doubt on a par with His understanding of private enterprise.

  1. derbbre

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That's the way it is

    If I develop a part for a Ford F-150, can I use the same part on a Dodge RAM? No? UNFAIR! All parts should fit all cars. Sheesh. If I develop for Linux can I use the same program for Windows. UNFAIR!

    Let a good product be a good product.

    And, everyone, stop trying to politicize something that isn't political. WEe get it, you don't like the current president. A tech blog site really isn't the right place to spout.

  1. Glasspusher

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This should be interesting. The first killer smart phone comes out with specific rules for making things well on it and getting accepted, and they get slammed. Guess RIM & Windows mobile didn't have this problem since apps for those platforms are so craptastic.

    Surely, apple will come under more scrutiny as they become the dominant player, but when they make the best stuff, is this so bad (contrast with M$). Also, isn't Android a decent competitor to the iPhone now? WTF?

    Also, isn't it amazing I'm still a fresh faced recruit even though I registered here 10 years ago? Must be the face soap I use.

  1. facebook_Thomas

    Via Facebook

    Joined: May 2010


    I agree with Doctor9

    No one seems to complain this much about the Nintendo DS or the wii or the xbox or the playstation but why is Apple forced to let developers do what they want instead of what Apple wants?

    Where is the cross compiler complaints for making DS and PSP games? Why doesn't the PSP play flash or make phone calls? Why doesn't my toaster stream MP3s? I know I'm getting ridiculous here but that is basically what this is about.

    Basically what is going on is that Apple really does have the best mobile device in the world and everyone wants one but they want it to have that one extra feature or option or software that would make it worth their money. It is already worth your money and if not then buy another mobile device but don't force a lawsuit on them because it does due what YOU want.

    Adobe being the biggest developer complaining that they can't play on the iPhone has many other mobile devices to play on yet none of them have full flash working. Why is that? Maybe because it can't but because we all want it we should sue Apple so they put flash on there so we can be happy again. And while we are at it lets just add that removable battery, and larger camera, and sue AT&T to allow tethering and let every company stream full HD to our phones because we want it and don't care about the network bandwidth or anything except making our wants fulfilled!

  1. Roger@MacNN

    Joined: Dec 1969



    So far I think doctor9 is the only one who gets it. The government isn't objecting to Apple having a proprietary store with proprietary apps; when you start to impose barriers on developing for other platforms, you've crossed the line.

  1. herojig

    Joined: Dec 1969


    sounds like a false rumor or bad joke

    this can't be this America or the EU?

  1. Eldernorm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Just a thought here....

    Is this imminent investigation from the same source that was sure that Adobe would sue Apple for not running FLASH on the iPhone, iPad...??????

    Just a thought here.

  1. wingdo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Pot meet Kettle

    Aren't you the same people who were all over the unfairness of Microsoft and their intertwined IE browser? All of us Apple fans were all pushing for MS to get hit big time over that. It's way different when they come after Apple isn't it?

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