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.


3 Comments on “Apple Antitrust Investigation Update”

  1. docmurdock

    Stephen, thanks. Am simply voicing that which many others are holding back on relative to Apple and anti-trust. Adobe really needs to prove that their software can run on the platform. They've had ample time to do so. They can't, so they really have no legs to stand on with that kind of a claim if one has been filed.

    Thanks for your reply.


  2. stephennorthcott

    Thanks for your comment Mike.

    I get the impression you are reading my personal views on this the wrong way around. I reported what we have heard, but think I made it fairly clear that I also don't think that Apple really warrant an investigation.

    All the best,

  3. docmurdock

    Waaaaaaaaaa. Call the Wammmmmbulance because there's a ton of crying babies out there that need first aid. Yes, I stooped to your level in this. Apple's deciding to ensure that their users are not slammed with crap in their inboxes due to ad companies data mining. What's wrong with that? Nothing. In fact, we thank them for being sensitive to this. When “G” launches their ad services you won't be so lucky. In fact you probably won't be able to dial a call or use an app without seeing an advertisement.

    Everyone should stop giving Apple advice until the government comes out with something and it's really hard to see how they would since Apple is merely controlling the quality of the programming that is done on THEIR platform. It's their right.

    You don't see Honda suing Toyota because they can't add their batteries to a PRIUS do you? No. You don't. Why not? Both make hybrids, both are car makers…not identical to Apple and Adobe, but then again you don't see Honda trying to push their GPS software onto Toyota either.

    Adobe FLASH is substandard software that needs a ground up re-write to become more bullet proof to those angry kids out there who claim to be hackers. More like crooks.

    Adobe has had 3 years to write a version of FLASH for the iphone and they have the tools to do it. Yet they've not produced anything for the public to see to bolster their case as to why Apple should even give them time at the microphone.

    So why should Apple or the rest of us care? Because a core group of programmers has to learn some new data structures, and coding methods as well as how to coin a decent UI so as to create an iPhone app using C++ or Objective C or Javascript as they would on ANY OTHER PLATFORM? Get a life people. Please.

    Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. yup I heard it right. Adobe…you know what to do. FIRE that lame CEO of yours and hire someone who will rally the company to create that which he's afraid of doing.

    Adobe is a lot like PIXAR was with hardware vendors. We would use a ton of hardware, but when it came to recommending one over the other, we never did. We simply said “use the best tools that work for you for the job that you're trying to accomplish”.

    Unfortunately for Adobe and UNLIKE PIXAR, Adobe's tools are NOT the best ones for creating iPhone/iPad/iTouch apps. Apple's ARE.

    Nuff said! (Thanks Stan Lee)

    Michael Murdock, CEO

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