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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Comments (2)
matsai6 wrote:
Apple’s policy DOES NOT require people who write apps to choose between writing them for Apple or rivals. Saying so is extremely misleading and betrays a lack of understanding. Apple thinks that it is better for app developers to develop apps specifically optimized for use on certain hardware (as it does for its macs) rather than apps being developed through a generalized third party packaging scheme (like the Flash Packager) that will necessarily ignore the hardware differences (and advantages) of each device in favor of easily (lazily?) porting the code for multiple platforms. A developer is certainly free to spend his time developing for other platforms independent of his work for Apples devices. This way of developing directly for individual devices would benefit competitors products also. If a developer cannot or does not want to spend the resources necessary to develop independent versions of apps for each device type then that is his or her business problem. Generic app development would put third party development tool makers in the driver’s seat and would necessarily promote generic hardware.

May 03, 2010 3:33pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
CJR wrote:
If applications can be written using a competitors tools and a company changes it’s terms to deliberately block them that is anti-competitive.
It is irrelevant to speculate on what apple ‘thinks’. Belief you have a better product is not grounds for blocking competition.

May 03, 2010 7:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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