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AntiTrust Division of DOJ Said to be Investigating Apple App Policies



2:20 pm on May 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month


According to a person familiar with the matter, 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.

Regulators, this person said, are days away from making a decision about which agency will launch the inquiry. It will focus on whether the policy, which took effect last month, 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.


7:18 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I was speaking with colleagues, and their argument was: the XBox, the PS, all these things are closed systems and so it's OK for the iPhone to be closed too.

But I disagree and I've stumbled on the argument why: it's all a question of "what software" the system runs, and "the capabilities" of the system.

The best analogy is the old 8 bit Nintendo and Segas.

1) for "capabilities" this was very specifically designed hardware, with only one goal which was to play games. It couldn't really do anything else.
2) for "what software", these systems ran in-house designed specific software, again just for running games

Today, we have the xbox, Play station, ipad, iphone:
1) for "capabilities", they are pretty much computers, point in hand: they have CPUs, hard-disks, disk-reader, graphic cards,
2) for "what software", I am not an expert on gaming consoles, but Apple basically uses a re-written version of Unix (BSD) for it's OS.

Basically, where I am getting to is, I think none of these systems should be closed, and we should have "root" or "root-like" access to all of them. Imagine you buy a PC from Dell.com and you don't have Admin rights.

Now, the question of the warranty remains, and I accept that vendors can decide that your warranty is void if you use your root access.

But that's OK with me. What's not OK is not having the choice and being forbidden from having this choice.


7:27 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Huh? Are you angry because a mobile OS can't do what a desktop/laptop OS can?

I'm not angry.

I'm convinced that devices, such as the iPad, are the future of computing instead of clunky desktops, but Apple is shooting itself in the foot with their current tactics. They have some good points, but overall I think it's a mistake.

I'm no prophet, but the next *pad* that runs Windows will stomp on and bury the iPad.


8:31 pm on May 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think the DOJ has a pretty good reason to look into this. Maybe not if they only have 20% of the smartphone market, but the App Store is also the gatekeeper of the IPod where they have 73% market share.

HP had maybe 60% of the inkjet market. Naturally, they didn't want you buying refill or aftermarket ink cartridges. Nonetheless, when they released a new inkjet pen system, they published a set of specs on the same day that told you exactly what you had to do to manufacture alternate cartridges. Apparently, legal thought it would be restraint of trade if they didn't publish that information.

I don't know whether to hope Apple opens up voluntarily or that they implode so I can just keep developing for Android etc.

Having one central app store isn't all bad for developers because it simplifies marketing. Windows Mobile never had one. Once my app garnered the top spot in its category after hovering at 2 or 3. My sales that week were - wait for it - 6. I sold more on my puny web site.

If Apple allowed alternative stores, 90% or more of the sales would still be coming through their App Store. Alternative stores would get a trickle of traffic compared to the app store. That's the case on Android now. But the apps that would thrive under those conditions would be ones highly desired by consumers that didn't make it through Apple's process. Maybe Apple would take note, and realize an app isn't as bad as the low paid reviewer thought and decide they might as well get their 30% cut.

Microsoft is going down the same route with Windows Phone 7, where everything will have to go through their store. Supposedly they will only check for malicious software, etc. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.


3:29 am on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Way cool a thread where I can dish out all my hatred for Apple! Seriously, Apple has been getting lots of negative publicity recently, just like former brother in arm Google. Not good.

One important comment. Those who say that the Feds investigating Apple are overstepping business, please remember that robber barons have always been detrimental to competition. Apple is the robber baron here, and developers are the mom and pop shops. Our economy, competition and innovation does much better when there's many mom and pops succeeding and driving the economy then when there's one robber baron like Apple. When one player threaten the system and forces a monopoly and an oligopoly, it is the duty of the government to intervene and allow the market to be competitive once again. Without that competition, we all lose in the end.

That's for the misguided libertarians who forget what's really at stake here.


2:05 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Very good point Harry: for the sake of perceived "business freedom" people all too often advocate for big business to be left alone, when the ultimate victim is small buisness. And guess who employs the most people, puts food on tables of families everywhere and generates the most tax revenue: small buisness.

Just came across another story on the iAd (so sick and tired of the i* BS): [fastcompany.com...]

I need to further study the details, but again this is quite anti-competitive, for this reason (correct me if I am wrong): basically apple is saying, advertise through our system and get exact app sales figures, but use a competing system and you will not have access to this extra data.

Yes, I think I've understood it. And again, I am just appalled. That would be like G saying, use G Checkout on your ecommerce site and get more data from adword than people using paypal on their site.
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