Apple to face antitrust probe over app restrictions? | iLounge News

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Apple to face antitrust probe over app restrictions?

Apple may be facing an antitrust inquiry over the company’s recent decision to ban apps made with cross-platform development tools from the App Store. Citing a person familiar with the matter, the New York Post reports that the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are in negotiations over which body will oversee the inquiry into Apple’s policy, with the decision only “days away.” According to the report, the inquiry will focus on whether or not the policy stifles competition by forcing developers to choose between building apps that only run on iPhone OS devices or apps that are able to run on a variety of competing operating systems, including those from Google, Microsoft, and Research In Motion. The report also points out that the launch of an inquiry does not mean action will be taken against Apple, instead serving to determine whether a full-scale investigation will be needed; Apple could be subpoenaed for further information should an investigation be necessary.

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Comments

1

I’m glad there’s an investigation. It shouldn’t matter whether the code was written on a cocktail napkin, scanned into a text file via OCR software, and compiled with the experimental compiler made via a group project in a graduate CS program. If it’s an iPhone OS app and it runs stably, does what it says it does, doesn’t have any security risks, and isn’t in violation of trademark, copyright and Apple content standards, it should be fair game for submission.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on May 3, 2010 at 9:56 AM (PDT)

2

Apple should just create an official seal of quality for any apps that meet their strict requirements and an “install at your own risk” seal for those that don’t.

Go ahead and make your cross compiled app, but it’s gonna get slapped with a warning and install at your own risk.

Posted by ort on May 3, 2010 at 10:19 AM (PDT)

3

I don’t know whether it is a good idea or not for apple to ban flash. but the iPhone, touch, and iPad are their products and if they feel that such compiled apps will not run to their standards then shouldn’t be their duty to make sure their product runs to their standards, after all if an app drains memory and runs poorly how many people are going to blame the device rather than the software?

Posted by hydra-calm on May 3, 2010 at 11:39 AM (PDT)

4

@3: There is no evidence there is anything wrong with applications compiled with any compiler other than the official one. Apple has not even tried to make that claim. Their argument is that programs intended to be cross-platform won’t make full use of the capabilities of iPhone OS devices (the ye old, “it’s for your own good” fairy tale). Of course, this ignores the fact that 99.9% of programs made with the official compiler will similarly fail to make full use of the iPhone OS hardware since there is very little platform specific about text base translators, tip calculators, and basic puzzle games, nor will the majority of already existing programs be updated to take advantage of any new APIs and/or hardware.

Secondarily, you must think your average Apple consumer a complete ##### to be pulling the old “won’t people blame the device and not the program…”. Nearly 100% of people with an iPhone OS device have a computer that somehow functions just fine (or not as the case may be) without a paternalistic dictator approving and disapproving every single app. Those that don’t have a computer are so technologically incompetent that they get their kid/spouse/friend to handle the management for them, and in that case we’ll assume the proxy manager can handle the minor troubleshooting of, “hey, my iPhone crashes every time I run this $0.99 game but everything else runs fine, wonder what the problem is?”.

The main two reasons Apple is doing this is, one, it reduces their costs in approving applications somewhat. Their compiler can be made to force all programs to stick to whatever the white list of APIs is at any given time. Two, and probably the main reason, it forces developers into an unnecessary position: They can either develop projects twice, or they can give the iPhone OS all their time. It’s not coincidence this ramping up of their war with Adobe’s compiler started as trends begin to indicate that Android will surpass everything other than Symbian OS within two years in terms of market share. Apple is trying to figuratively shackle the developers out there, either to outright force their loyalty to the iPhone OS platform, or at least slow the pace of cross-platform apps by forcing developers to waste time.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on May 3, 2010 at 12:03 PM (PDT)

5

Code Monkey, i never said the “average Apple consumer” would wonder if it is the os, but rather asked how many people would period. The average iPhone user is NOT an IT professional nor even technologically minded but in fact everyday people. The same type of people who have no idea what ftp is or what it is for.
Now it is obvious that you are a flash fanboy, but calm down and realize flash is an old, slow, and outdated memory hog.

Posted by hydra-calm on May 3, 2010 at 1:33 PM (PDT)

6

@5: How to put this constructively…

First off, nothing I wrote above had a thing to do with Flash, so your inability to follow the topic at hand makes me replying to you probably pointless as you clearly don’t understand what the crux of the anti-trust inquiry is about. For the record, it’s Apple’s refusal to allow Adobe’s compiler to be used to develop iPhone applications, which, to reinforce the point, has nothing to do with Adobe’s Flash technology. It’s a “because we can” restriction with no justifications outside of ones that smell a lot like trying to use their current market position to prevent competition, hence the antitrust inquiry.

Further, I guess I need to be more blunt than I was: your “how many…” question is the sort of straw man that I’ve been seeing for years, but it’s not based in anything resembling the reality, so I’m not really interested in your semantical “correction”. The number to your question is zero, it always has been (the sorts of techtards who blame their computer for every PEBKAC problem in the universe do not have gadgets like an iPhone or iPad). Furthermore, in spite of your attempt at a non-reason for their refusal to allow the Adobe compiler to be used, the fact remains that if the Adobe compiler were to be allowed, the finished products would still be held to all the same quality assurance standards as ones compiled via the SDK. There wouldn’t be any poorly performing Adobe compile apps available, and if there were, the fault would be Apple’s, not Adobe’s.

Still, while not at all what I was writing about, you are correct that Flash is a bit of a dog performance wise, I’ve never said otherwise. That does not, however, change the fact that it is a standard that Apple, with its minuscule percentage of iPhone OS based web traffic, is not now nor will ever be in a position to change. Flash may be replaced in time, but it’s not going to be because a company that made not supporting Flash on a platform that is only responsible for a bit less than 0.6% of all web traffic in the world made a stink about it.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on May 3, 2010 at 2:14 PM (PDT)

7

Code Monkey, “First off, nothing I wrote above had a thing to do with Flash” This whole case has everything to do with flash. It all stems from the fact that apple does not like flash, does not want flash running on the iPad or iPhone OS, and thus banned any 3rd party compilers (although not specifically just from flash but any other platform).
And again you like to make up numbers. The latest Mobile Metrics Report claims that the iPhone accounts for 46% versus 25% for android of all worldwide mobile web usage. I agree apple alone will not kill flash but the adoption of html5 by apple, microsoft, and mozilla will.

Posted by hydra-calm on May 3, 2010 at 4:01 PM (PDT)

8

“Flash may be replaced in time, but it’s not going to be because a company that made not supporting Flash on a platform that is only responsible for a bit less than 0.6% of all web traffic in the world made a stink about it.”

They said that about the floppy too.  Some pretty major players are already at least offering both types of websites.
And for an odd bit of irony, MS seems to agree with Apple (not a shock I suppose given Silverlight)

In the end, Adobe can whine and give their employees Droids (I hope they don’t use a proxy ‘cause Driod don’t do that) but if the tide is meant to turn, it will.

Fun times.  Takes one’s mind off of politics and the economy I suppose wink

Posted by sb on May 3, 2010 at 4:04 PM (PDT)

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