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European Union joins FTC investigation into Apple's opposition of Flash

post #1 of 238
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Regulators from the European Union have reportedly joined the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in investigating Apple and its practice of blocking Adobe Flash from iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

On Tuesday, the New York Post cited a source in reporting that European Commission has joined the FTC in an alleged ongoing investigation into Apple's anti-Flash stance. The report claims that the FTC began its investigation in June, and the European Commission recently joined the probe "into whether Apple's business practices harm competition."

The sources said the investigation could last another four to six months, though both the European Commission and FTC declined to comment, or officially acknowledged the ongoing investigation.

Last week, indications of the FTC's investigation surfaced when the commission denied a Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to a complaint filed by Adobe against Apple. The FTC said that the release of the information would impede its "law enforcement" duties.

The FTC will never publicly confirm its investigations, except when it decides to sue or reaches a settlement with a company. But the commission's decision not to release 189 pages related to Adobe's complaint against Apple strongly suggest that such an investigation is ongoing.

If true, the information from the Post's source would not only confirm the investigation, but also indicate that it is expanding overseas. The report noted that the EU recently adopted a new "Digital Agenda," which encourages interoperability of services between devices.

Adobe filed its complaint with the FTC after Apple announced it would not allow iOS applications ported from other languages or development environments, such as Flash. Adobe had created an application that would allow developers to port software written to Flash to the iPhone circumventing Apple's ban of Adobe Flash from iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

But Apple changed its developer agreement, banning applications written in non-native languages and ported to the iPhone. That prompted Adobe to abandon development of its Flash-to-iPhone porting software, and file a complaint with the FTC.

Apple's stance on Flash for mobile devices was made clear in an open letter from Chief Executive Steve Jobs, published in late April. Jobs slammed Adobe Flash as a Web tool that is unfit for the modern, mobile era of computing. He also said that an intermediary tool for converting Flash applications to the iPhone would produce "sub-standard apps," and would hinder the progress of the platform.
post #2 of 238
Correct me if I am wrong, Apple didn't block flash, they blocked non native apps. I have never seen, or heard of, a version of flash that would actually run on the iPhone/iPad.

Was this submitted to Apple and denied?
post #3 of 238
The EU is now in on it? Good luck Apple. They don't tend to be nice to big, market leading companies.
post #4 of 238
If the FTC were to penalize Apple for dropping Flash support this would do nothing but reward badly written software and stifle competition. I don't see how in a free market how a government agency can dictate which software I can use when on the internet. Apple and Adobe are not competitors first off so how is Apple's action anti competitive. If by some bizarre twist Adobe and its pathetic flash wins this I would love to start a class action suite against Adobe due to the poor performance of flash on my Mac. I have lost too many hours per year having to restart a crashed browser due to their product.
post #5 of 238
Who asked the EU?
and
What was the question?

Are they including click2flash in this incredulous waste of time?
It's the most popular way to 'block' flash.

Investigate this! PU
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post #6 of 238
Good luck with trying to put an end to the free market, Adobe. You’ll need it.
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post #7 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by kerryb View Post

I don't see how in a free market how a government agency can dictate which software I can use when on the internet.


Wait - the FTC is trying to dictate that we must use Flash? That is unAmerican.
post #8 of 238
I would agree that Flash is not fit for mobile computing, having just seen it eat 1.5 gigabytes of my Mac's RAM and bring the Mac to a crawl. Fortunately, on my Mac I can Force Quit a rogue very easily, bringing the RAM back and still keeping Safari alive. The same Adobe Flash issue on my iPhone or iPad could be less easily handled.
post #9 of 238
I'm all for anti-trust enforcement, but this is silly. Apple does not have anything approaching a monopoly in the smartphone world. If you don't like the iPhone, buy a droid or a blackberry. How can anti-trust law apply when there is no trust to anti?
post #10 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

Correct me if I am wrong, Apple didn't block flash, they blocked non native apps. I have never seen, or heard of, a version of flash that would actually run on the iPhone/iPad.

Was this submitted to Apple and denied?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kerryb View Post

If the FTC were to penalize Apple for dropping Flash support this would do nothing but reward badly written software and stifle competition. I don't see how in a free market how a government agency can dictate which software I can use when on the internet. Apple and Adobe are not competitors first off so how is Apple's action anti competitive. If by some bizarre twist Adobe and its pathetic flash wins this I would love to start a class action suite against Adobe due to the poor performance of flash on my Mac. I have lost too many hours per year having to restart a crashed browser due to their product.

Agreed. Steve Jobs has said in his open letter if Adobe can get Flash to run properly on a mobile device they will line up to evaluate it and approve it if it works. Even Flash for Android... clock's still ticking. Makes me think about that Steve-note when he put up the timer clock about how long Vista development was taking.

Of course there was the tool Adobe had that supposedly converted Flash to iOS app that Apple killed, but honestly, most Flash apps are crap anyway. I don't really think keep the platform humming is Apples only drive for banning Flash but I do think a lot of the complaints Jobs had about Flash hold true merit. Hell Flash doesn't even work in 64bit browsers on Windows 7/Vista 64bit. Does Apple want to try and horde all the apps at the app store, probably. But does Flash suck balls, chews battery life because its inefficient code, crashes alot etc? Yes it does.
post #11 of 238
Aside from the fact that Falsh is an energy hog and isn't right for battery operated devices, doesn't flash run on more than 1 platform? So how do you govern application standards for software that runs on other businesses hardware. And on that point, how do you keep it exclusive to a proprietary store (iTunes)?
I'm not saying this is a right or wrong approach, it is simply Apples approach to keep what should be theirs on their phone and in their store. I think it's called a business model. (Mind you that flash is not just video content but also application software.)
Don't own an iPhone if this concept bothers you.
post #12 of 238
I am confused... I mean, I'd actually like Flash on my iPad, but suggesting not having it there 'harms competition' is insane.

Maybe they should investigate Flash's 99% market presense on computers, and see how much THAT is harming competition.

The industry needs watchdogs and regulation, but they're so dim-witted, it's painful!

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post #13 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I'm all for anti-trust enforcement, but this is silly. Apple does not have anything approaching a monopoly in the smartphone world. If you don't like the iPhone, buy a droid or a blackberry. How can anti-trust law apply when there is no trust to anti?

Speaking of Blackberry, there is still no Flash for BB OS and I wouldn’t expect it anytime in 2010. All we have is Flash for devices that can use Android newest OS, Froyo, and that number is small.

This is a pretty ridiculous and irrational to expect a device makers to be required to support your product, and that’s before we get into the lack of a monopoly or the fact that Adobe barely has Flash out the door for one mobile OS in August 2010… it’s August 2010!

Adobe’s best move is to actually make Flash on mobiles good, which I think is impossible, but if they cold hypothetically make it good and make it good for all mobile OSes then Apple would have to much user pressure to not add it.
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post #14 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I'm all for anti-trust enforcement, but this is silly. Apple does not have anything approaching a monopoly in the smartphone world. If you don't like the iPhone, buy a droid or a blackberry. How can anti-trust law apply when there is no trust to anti?

Agreed.

I don't think anything is gonna come out of this though, so its not really a big deal.

Basically, I think this is a combination of 2 things:

1) The FTC is involved because Apple does not lobby enough. They spend the least amount of money (and its a significantly smaller amount, as well as percentage of revenue than Google/MSFT) amongst the large Tech companies. Google, OTOH, is deep in the FTC's business (as we saw with the Verizon deal).

2) The EU is involved because they cant imagine not investigating a high profile company like Apple when the FTC is doing it. They cannot be behind the FTC.
post #15 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

The EU is now in on it? Good luck Apple. They don't tend to be nice to big, market leading companies.

You're forgetting about the fact that Apple hasn't actually done anything that could remotely be called "wrong" or "illegal." This is all just wasted effort.

Unless the relevant agencies and countries are prepared to go down a really, really, fascist road (more so than lately even), this will ultimately all come to nothing.
post #16 of 238
I could honestly seeing Apple pulling their products off the shelves before giving in to the EU.

I don't believe anything will happen here in the states. Apple's reasons are valid enough and it is not like they are controlling a large percent of phone sales or doing anything that is not within their right to do. It's their toy, do what they want.
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post #17 of 238
Wait, what mobile devices run the full version of Flash? Because I don't remember seeing any...

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post #18 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

You're forgetting about the fact that Apple hasn't actually done anything that could remotely be called "wrong" or "illegal." This is all just wasted effort.

Unless the relevant agencies and countries are prepared to go down a really, really, fascist road (more so than lately even), this will ultimately all come to nothing.

Using MS IE as an example, maybe the EU wants to get started now so that if Apple does become a monopoly in a decade they will actually seem timely. Hell, Adobe might even have Flash on more one than one mobile OS by then.
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post #19 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

This is a pretty ridiculous and irrational to expect a device makers to be required to support your product, and thats before we get into the lack of a monopoly or the fact that Adobe barely has Flash out the door for one mobile OS in August 2010 its August 2010!

I don't think it's possible for Apple to get into real trouble over this. If they're forced to allow Flash, that will set a precedent that will force them to allow all languages and platforms - Java, Silverlight, whatever. That, in turn, sets a precedent for the whole group of devices that can either access the internet or download some kind of application. So Apple could turn around and ask the FTC and EU to please force Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft to allow all those as well. I can't speak for the others, but as far as I know, the Wii doesn't use Silverlight. And what about other phones and TV-boxes that access the internet?
post #20 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I'm all for anti-trust enforcement, but this is silly. Apple does not have anything approaching a monopoly in the smartphone world. If you don't like the iPhone, buy a droid or a blackberry. How can anti-trust law apply when there is no trust to anti?


It is true that Apple is in a distant third place in the smartphone world. So I doubt that the FTC will charge them with having a monopoly in the smartphone world. Indeed, there is evidence that Apple is losing market share to Android now (it can't last - how could anybody prefer Android?).

But in the meantime, you are entirely correct. The FTC is tilting at windmills, going after the third-place horse when others are rounding the stretch.
post #21 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post

Agreed.

I don't think anything is gonna come out of this though, so its not really a big deal.

Basically, I think this is a combination of 2 things:

1) The FTC is involved because Apple does not lobby enough. They spend the least amount of money (and its a significantly smaller amount, as well as percentage of revenue than Google/MSFT) amongst the large Tech companies. Google, OTOH, is deep in the FTC's business (as we saw with the Verizon deal).

2) The EU is involved because they cant imagine not investigating a high profile company like Apple when the FTC is doing it. They cannot be behind the FTC.

I agree that nothing will come of the FTC involvement, because I think the FTC is fairly rational. But the EU is inclined to push things too far, particularly with non-European companies. Of course, the worst case scenario for apple is just that they have to allow things in their EU app store that they don't allow in app stores in the rest of the world.
post #22 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoolook View Post

Maybe they should investigate Flash's 99% market presense on computers, and see how much THAT is harming competition.


Its not 99%. Nobody has Flash on their Macs, and Macs are at least 4 or 5% of the market.
post #23 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe View Post

Its not 99%. Nobody has Flash on their Macs, and Macs are at least 4 or 5% of the market.

Lots of people have Flash on their Macs. The smart ones use ClickToFlash or FlashBlock to temper most of the annoyances, but Flash is definitely on most Macs.

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post #24 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe View Post

Its not 99%. Nobody has Flash on their Macs, and Macs are at least 4 or 5% of the market.

Thanks for weighing in tekstud
post #25 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

Lots of people have Flash on their Macs. The smart ones use ClickToFlash or FlashBlock to temper most of the annoyances, but Flash is definitely on most Macs.

That is what I meant. People don't use Flash on Macs because it crashes them. What difference does it make if the code is hidden away in some dark corner of the hard drive, when it is never used?

That's what I meant.
post #26 of 238
I have my own web plugin like flash called 'U R A N0B' and Apple won't run that either. Will the FTC and the EU force Apple to include my plugin too? Maybe we should all send in complaints to the FTC about our own individual plugins?
post #27 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by drdb View Post

I have my own web plugin like flash called 'U R A N0B' and Apple won't run that either. Will the FTC and the EU force Apple to include my plugin too? Maybe we should all send in complaints to the FTC about our own individual plugins?


If you want to run some sort of home-brew, there are plenty of platforms which will run any old thing.

You are free to buy any one of them. But your User Experience will suffer.

That is the difference with Apple. They will not allow you to have a bad time, and the haters say that is wrong.
post #28 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Speaking of Blackberry, there is still no Flash for BB OS and I wouldnt expect it anytime in 2010. All we have is Flash for devices that can use Android newest OS, Froyo, and that number is small.

This is a pretty ridiculous and irrational to expect a device makers to be required to support your product, and thats before we get into the lack of a monopoly or the fact that Adobe barely has Flash out the door for one mobile OS in August 2010 its August 2010!

Adobes best move is to actually make Flash on mobiles good, which I think is impossible, but if they cold hypothetically make it good and make it good for all mobile OSes then Apple would have to much user pressure to not add it.

Are these investigations for blocking the Flash video player in the browser or for dictating how developers write apps? I don't think the government can/should force Apple to allow Flash player on its browser, but I am not sure about the developers issue. Apple should be able to control its own platform to some extent, of course. The question the government has to be asking is: Was this done to make apps better or hurt Adobe and stop apps from being easily ported to Android?
post #29 of 238
It is important that those with knowledge of the technical issues from a consumer viewpoint make a serious statement about: (i) Why Apple's stand on Flash for mobile might be justified; and (ii) Why Flash itself could be investigated if one were to apply similar standards (as a couple of you have pointed out).

Please go to http://ec.europa.eu/competition/form...r_form_en.html and register your thoughts. They are required to consider your view, especially if you are a EU citizen.

If I knew more about the issues involved, I would do it. This is the only way to push back at corporate interests that typically drive such investigations (I'll bet Adobe made a formal complaint to the EU Competition Commission).
post #30 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The report claims that the FTC began its investigation in June, and the European Commission recently joined the probe "into whether Apple's business practices 'harm' competition."

Imagine a world if you couldn't 'harm' competition.

Cripes, we would be moving everything by sled because the wheel was outlawed.
post #31 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

Correct me if I am wrong, Apple didn't block flash, they blocked non native apps. I have never seen, or heard of, a version of flash that would actually run on the iPhone/iPad.

Was this submitted to Apple and denied?

it runs on the iphone/ipad if you jailbreak it and ad it yourself.
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post #32 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffreytgilbert View Post

it runs on the iphone/ipad if you jailbreak it and ad it yourself.

oh, and did run natively through adobe's package builder right before apple killed it with iOS 4
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post #33 of 238
Wow, Adobe must be throwing a LOT of money around.
post #34 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe View Post

Its not 99%. Nobody has Flash on their Macs, and Macs are at least 4 or 5% of the market.

it comes installed by default.
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post #35 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

Wait, what mobile devices run the full version of Flash? Because I don't remember seeing any...

all android 2.2 devices and some 2.1 devices from what I remember of my limited EVO 4G experience.
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post #36 of 238
Leave Nokia out of this, they have Flash-lite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

The EU is now in on it? Good luck Apple. They don't tend to be nice to big, market leading companies.
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post #37 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by kerryb View Post

If the FTC were to penalize Apple for dropping Flash support this would do nothing but reward badly written software and stifle competition. I don't see how in a free market how a government agency can dictate which software I can use when on the internet. Apple and Adobe are not competitors first off so how is Apple's action anti competitive. If by some bizarre twist Adobe and its pathetic flash wins this I would love to start a class action suite against Adobe due to the poor performance of flash on my Mac. I have lost too many hours per year having to restart a crashed browser due to their product.

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding here. This is not about Apple not "supporting" Flash. They've done that from the very beginning and there was no real issue as far as any regulating body was concerned. The real issue is Apple's latest update to their developer agreement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shadash View Post

Are these investigations for blocking the Flash video player in the browser or for dictating how developers write apps? I don't think the government can/should force Apple to allow Flash player on its browser, but I am not sure about the developers issue. Apple should be able to control its own platform to some extent, of course. The question the government has to be asking is: Was this done to make apps better or hurt Adobe and stop apps from being easily ported to Android?

I'm as big an Apple fan as anybody, but this is going to bite Apple in the ass. Maybe not by the weak FTC, but by the EU. Not supporting Flash. OK. Not allowing interpreted code. OK. Dictating to developers how they get to native code. Not OK.

From my understanding, Adobe was working on a way to allow Flash apps get ported to native iOS code. There is no technical justification for blocking that effort. A developer can write crappy programs in any dev environment, even Apple's xcode. Maybe it's more likely to happen using Adobe's tools, but the harm will be in usability, not any technical or security risk to the iOS device. And the consumer will decide the success or failure of an app based on quality.

It was really a quite blatant and obvious attempt to harm Adobe in a very targeted way. I could argue either way whether any regulating body should step in and intervene, but knowing the EU, they will. And to the user who said Apple would pull their devices before bowing to EU pressure...enjoy your day in fantasy-land.
post #38 of 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I'm all for anti-trust enforcement, but this is silly. Apple does not have anything approaching a monopoly in the smartphone world. If you don't like the iPhone, buy a droid or a blackberry. How can anti-trust law apply when there is no trust to anti?

The antitrust laws are about the preservation of open competition. I seem to have to point this out in every thread on this subject. I also have been pointing out the very recent settlement between the FTC and Intel. In no part of this settlement was Intel found to be a "trust" or to have a "monopoly," but they did agree to end a pricing practice which was seen to be anticompetitive. The EU tends to be more aggressive on competition issues and the EU laws seem somewhat broader in their approach, so Apple will probably have to respond with some sort of plan other than "we don't want Flash on our platform."
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post #39 of 238
I am currently running flash on my iphone-it is jailbroke and i installed 'frash'-a install through a custom repo in Cydia's app store on jailbroken phones. It runs ok. Farmville doesn't work because it can detect it is an iphone and refers me to download the FV app in Apple's App Store and the same for go.abc.com for tv shows

-I can disable it with one click using the SBspringboard toggle i doubt i will ever use it-i ran a few videos and a casino site. worked ok... a couple hiccups but the iphone gets rather warm like a space heater-i hear the android version is the same. HOT. And the battery went down about 40% in just about 7 minutes.

The hack utilizes an android flash version 10.1.

My take is it has a long way to go.

FTC and EU shouldn't waste their time especially considering Adobe doesn't have an acceptable mobile version anyway. Although really they shouldn't bother at all. Apple can choose what they want. Adobe could make it available regardless now that jailbreaking was declared legal in the eyes of the law. Adobe could solve this all by themselves going that route.

just my 2 cents,

-david

!!! oh and it does come up with something similar to click2flash but just says flash. you have to tap it to load it - even for apps.
post #40 of 238
This isn't about forcing Apple to run Flash on the iPhone. The iPhone isn't a monopoly, and only, what, 3 or 4 phone models can even run Flash out of the hundreds or thousands out there. No one could enforce a ruling like that. I believe the investigation is ONLY about Apple banning software such as Flash from converting code to iPhone language-friendly apps. Even I see a problem with that. This doesn't hurt just Adobe. It hurts anyone out there that might have been trying to create a business around app portability between various app storefronts. And that in turn hurts app developers with limited resources attempting to port their apps to broader markets. This is where I see the harm. If the app code is written in Apple's accepted languages, it should be allowed regardless of being ported from another language. If the app is buggy or harmful, reject it as any other natively written app.

I believe this is the only plausible judgment the FTC or EU could enforce. The iPhone AppStore is the leading storefront with the most apps available and the most apps sold, making it a market leader. Therefore opening up the AppStore to portable apps invigorates competition between storefronts and, through that, devices themselves.
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