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Apple Facing Antitrust Investigations [Update: Confirmed]

Gordon Kelly by

Apple Facing Antitrust Investigations [Update: Confirmed]

Steve Job's Thoughts on Flash open letter has already sparked furious debate, but could it also soon spark government legal action...?

According to a story by the New York Post "the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are locked in negotiations over which of the watchdogs will begin an antitrust inquiry into Apple's new policy of requiring software developers who devise applications for devices such as the iPhone and iPad to use only Apple's programming tools."

The focus? Whether Apple's policy "kills competition by forcing programmers to choose between developing apps that can run only on Apple gizmos or come up with apps that are platform neutral, and can be used on a variety of operating systems, such as those from rivals Google, Microsoft and Research In Motion."

The NYP says both the Justice Department and FTC declined comment, while Apple has not returned its calls.

While I've some scepticism about this story (the NYP is something of a tabloid) it certainly isn't beyond the realms of possibility and could well open up a can of worms for the company which also continues other business practices which Microsoft has long been censured for such as bundling a browser and media player with its OS. Any ARM bid would also surely raise alarm bells and if action does take place in the US it could also trigger moves from the ever legal-happy EU.

Watch this space...

Update: Reuters, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal are all confirming preliminary antitrust investigations have begun against Apple. This could now get very interesting indeed.


Via the New York Post

Go to comments

Pendejo Sin Nombre

May 4, 2010, 10:54 am

I've got to ask, why would they buy ARM when they can get the recently bought Intrinsity to do their custom design work and have the best of both worlds?


May 4, 2010, 12:29 pm

Why is no one inquiring about how the company locks owners out of their own hardware? How can it be legal for Apple to sell products and do its best to prevent people from running whatever code they want on them?


May 4, 2010, 12:59 pm

I hope they will take legal action. I love Apples products but a shot at their arrogance would do them good. After all, when you look at Microsoft, the antitrust cases never did them any harm. I actually think it became a better company, making better products, because of it.


May 4, 2010, 2:06 pm

I was also confounded by the fact Apple was never targeted the same way Microsoft, Nintendo and Intel were. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out (if it's true; but then most newspapers these days are useless rags).

Daniel Gerson

May 4, 2010, 2:13 pm

I hate Apple's policy as much as the next developer. But can't the government keep its nose out of this???

Antitrust fines are not the reason that firefox/google/apple have pushed back Microsoft's dominance in recent years. It's the fact that these companies have found niches in the market due to Microsoft's lack of insight.

The same thing can happen here because of Apple's pig headedness. JUST LET THE MARKET WORK!


May 4, 2010, 3:07 pm

If/by the time this gets investigated Apple will not be the top dog in any of their choosen Battle grounds. Windows will still rule the desktop. Google's Android will be have the biggest slice of the cake everywhere else. a Non event.


May 4, 2010, 3:15 pm


Absolutely! There is absolutely no reason to scrutinise the behaviour of big business; it's not like reckless banks every got anyone into trouble, lax H&S standards ever led to environmental disasters or irresponsible drug companies ever killed anyone.

Oh, hang on...


May 4, 2010, 3:32 pm

The question of the power Apple wield with the App Store has always greatly interested me. Sure the obvious capitalist argument is - their company their rules, and if you don't like developing for or purchasing from them, feel free to leave for a competitor. But that App Store is becoming so huge and those new agreement rules so forceful with developer exclusivity, that it genuinely does raise antitrust and monopolies commission questions. It's a tricky one - sure a contract is a contract, but freelance professionals like devs should be able to compile and sell their product to as many companies willing to take them. And the overriding principle of any competition regulation should always be : is the company just too big in that market?


May 4, 2010, 3:44 pm

@kaworu1986: How can it be legal for Apple to sell products and do its best to prevent people from running whatever code they want on them?

You mean like PS3 & XBox 360?

@Jesper: making better products, because of it.

I personally think the bad press Vista got was the main reason Windows 7 was better. I think Microsoft knew if they made the same mistake again it could well have been Curtains 7.


May 4, 2010, 4:43 pm

Gordon, I tentatively submit that the word "censored" should have been "censured" in your article.


May 4, 2010, 5:05 pm

I don't have any numbers to hand, but what influences this kind of investigation is market share. Microfsoft, given its dominance in operating systems, was a prime candidate. But what's Apple's market share for computers? I'm going from dim and distant memory, but maybe 5 percent? (Feel free to correct me here). The iPhone is a huge success, but there are competitors in the smartphone market, such as Android and the coming Windows phone. What Apple is saying is that developers who wish to develop for our platform must use our tools. Apple is not stopping them developing for other platforms using other tools. Nor is Apple telling them, if you develop for anyone else then we will pull your apps from our platform. Now those would be anti-trust issues.


May 4, 2010, 5:08 pm

Utter tosh. Apple design a product and control what goes on it. As long as developers use the correct tools, then the product works. I agree with Keith, should Nintendo start accepting the Sony PS3 Blu-ray disks? Should all developers just choose whatever development tool they want and expect it to be ported to all platforms?. Whatever happened to Market forces. There is still a choice out there that offer a variety of platforms and development potential. Apple's business model works, leave it alone

Andy Vandervell

May 4, 2010, 6:15 pm

@Bluepork: Fixed, thank you.


May 4, 2010, 6:28 pm

@supersizeme: You're being disingenuous. I think everybody here knows why the Wii can't accept PS3 disks, and likewise why developers usually cannot choose "whatever development tool they want". Those are matters of fundamental incompatibility - using a tool inappropriate for the job. The point in question is why Apple have blocked access to a fully-functional competing development tool which makes cross-platform development simpler.

Whether or not a competitions commission should weigh in on this is another matter entirely, of course. I'm not sure on that point myself - Apple will be Apple, after all, and they never pretended their platform was open. I don't like it, but I don't buy Apple.

I'm less happy with the implication that there is no place for market regulation forces at all. If you want to live in a world where the largest company takes all, then by all means find yourself another planet and do so, but I for one am quite glad that we have some (dysfunctional, granted) insurance against that.


May 4, 2010, 6:51 pm

People comparing this with examples of Sony, Nintendo you're all are missing the point. Firstly, monopoly or not, its about anti-competitive practices and Apple using its dominant position (App Store) to stifle the competition (primarily Flash). You don't have to be a monopoly to be investigated period.

Secondly, companies like Sony, Nintendo & Microsoft do not prevent developers from porting games or applications originally developed on other platforms. Apple is controlling its dominant position in the Apps market by explicitly restricting cross platform development for apps. Most app developers don't have the budget to rewrite apps for other platform ground up and they either have to code their apps natively or end up locked out of the Iphone market. That is being anti-competitive and a clear effort to kill the competition (Adobe Flash, Android Marketplace.


May 4, 2010, 7:21 pm

adobe have always been slow to update with the times,it took 3rd party hackers to fix their own software(reader),then there was 64 bit support,then they wouldnt help apple to build a lite player,they deserve to be cut out,good riddance.

Smithfield Building

May 5, 2010, 12:49 am

The investigation has been instigated due to a complaint from Adobe....hmmmmmm.

What all the people who are moaning about Apple's proprietary when it comes to developing for its mobile products is that if Adobe get their way it will lead to an enormous influx of inferior, shitty applications.

Oliver Levett

May 7, 2010, 8:57 pm


XBox has XNA, so anyone can write games for it, and PS3 you can run linux on to some extent.

Those arguing that it's Apples platform, and they can do what they like, should perhaps look at Microsoft and Internet Explorer. Windows is Microsofts platform, shouldn't they be able to do what they like?

Apple have managed to annoy a huge number of people, and most likely within a few years will be back to selling five computers a year.

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