updated 04:30 pm EDT, Tue May 4, 2010
Apple rules prevent use of compatible Adobe tools
An Adobe complaint is the main cause behind reported federal interest in antitrust charges against Apple, according to Bloomberg sources. Apple recently changed the rules for developers, forbidding the use of third-party tools in the creation of iPhone and iPad apps. In doing so, Adobe's complaint is said to suggest, Apple has actively interfered with companies' ability to compete.
Adobe only recently launched a Flash cross-compiler with iPhone support. While Flash is not allowed on the iPhone directly, developers can in theory use the compiler to convert Flash content not just for the iPhone, but also for other platforms such as Android phones. While Apple insists that the new rules are a matter of ensuring quality, the move may also force some developers to concentrate exclusively on Apple hardware or the rest of the market.
The sources add that it is still undecided whether the Federal Trade Commission or the Department of Justice will look into the allegations. Even if a probe is greenlit, it may not lead to a full investigation. Apple could also be ready to short-circuit any legal worries by altering the terms of the iPhone SDK.
Antitrust concerns are believed to secondly involve iAd, which could have an unfair advantage in targeting people for advertising. Most mobile advertisers are not allowed access to detailed iPhone analytics, whereas Apple could have this information by default. Some of these advertisers have filed their own complaints, sources say.