Apple Antitrust Investigation Update
Yesterday we reported a rumor from The New York Post that Apple (AAPL) may be facing an antitrust probe from the FTC or DOJ. Today a few other sources have weighed in on this issue with differing views.
Whilst there has still been no comment from either Apple or any government office on this subject, some journalists and industry insiders are already offering Apple advice .
The advice is basically to let developers choose their development tools by modifying the now notorious clause 3.3.1. Some believe this will be enough to mollify any investigators in a government probe. To me it smacks a little of desperation when the sources that this advice is coming from are analyzed more closely.
Allegedly the spark which ignited the possible investigation was indeed a complaint from Adobe about Apple’s new rules. But it has potentially been reenforced from a couple of different sectors of the tech industry.
Advertisers and agents, as well as corporations employing them, who were hoping to advertise with Apple are not enamoured with the price Apple wants to charge for blocks of advertising. Or the fact that Apple will also hold the whip hand initially at least, when it comes to producing iAds. A service which Apple will also charge a pretty penny for. And will hold a monopoly over until it makes tools for producing iAds available to advertisers and their agencies.
Furthermore mobile advertising companies like AdMob are not too happy that other parts of Apple’s Developer Contract apparently stop third party advertising services using customers information, particularly habits and location awareness, to tailor ads to their audience. That is something now reserved for iAd alone since the iPhone SDK Developer Contract update, as transmission of data from apps to third parties is now outlawed in clause 3.3.9.
All of these put together could possibly give the FTC and DOJ enough meat to get their teeth into while they weigh the possibility of a probe. But it would still be messy and complicated. As has been shown by some rather rudimentary questions that have come out of the FTC over the last day or so and been addressed to industry experts in what seems to be an information gathering exercise.
Most sage sources in the industry still think this probe won’t fly. And I tend to agree.
Are all these niggles enough to add up into a big ball of antitrust trouble for Apple? We’ll keep you posted.
Let us know in the comments if you think Apple should or should not be investigated.