FTC/DOJ mulling antitrust look at Apple-source

Mon May 3, 2010 2:22pm EDT

* Programming tools to write iPad/iPhone apps at issue

* Expert says policy is anticompetitive

WASHINGTON May 3 (Reuters) - U.S. antitrust regulators are considering an inquiry into whether Apple (AAPL.O) violates antitrust law by requiring that its programming tools be used to write applications for the popular iPad and iPhone, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department enforce antitrust law, and no decision has been made on which would take the probe, said the source, who spoke privately for business reasons.

The New York Post first reported regulators' interest in Apple's policy, which essentially requires people who write apps to choose between writing them only for Apple or for Apple's rivals.

The agencies are expected within days to make a decision on which would handle the investigation, the Post reported.

"What they're (Apple) doing is clearly anticompetitive ... They want one superhighway and they're the tollkeeper on that superhighway," said David Balto, a former FTC policy director.

Apple and the Justice Department declined to comment. The FTC did not immediately respond to a request for a comment. (Reporting by Diane Bartz and Gabriel Madway; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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