Changes to Apple's developer agreement could spur antitrust inquiry

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are pursuing an antitrust inquiry over Apple's changes to its iPhone developer agreement, which banned the porting of Adobe Flash apps to the iPhone OS, according to the New York Post.



The Post reported on Monday that the DOJ and FTC are "locked in negotiations" over which will formally begin the antitrust proceedings. Both are allegedly looking into Apple after the Cupertino, Calif., company added a clause to its developer agreement for the upcoming iPhone OS 4 software upgrade. That addition specifically prohibits the development of applications using "an intermediary translation or compatibility layer too," which bans the porting of software originally written for Adobe's Flash, Sun's Java or Microsoft's Silverlight/Mono to the iPhone OS.



Apple's change prompted Adobe to abandon further development of an application included in its just-released Creative Suite 5 that allows developers to port Flash applications to the iPhone OS. Such applications will be rejected from the App Store for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad under the new developer agreement.



The Post noted that an inquiry does not mean any action will necessarily be taken against Apple. Inquiries are initiated to determine whether a complete investigation will be conducted.



"Regulators, this person said, are days away from making a decision about which agency will launch the inquiry," author Josh Kosman wrote. "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."



The news comes just days after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs wrote a scathing essay on Adobe Flash, criticizing the Web format as unfit for the modern era of mobile computing. Flash was created for the "PC era," Jobs said, for use with PCs and mice. But he argued the format is not meant for touchscreens and results in poor battery life for mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad.



Jobs also contended that intermediary tools, like the one found in Adobe's CS5 for porting Flash to the iPhone OS, result in substandard applications and result in developers who are dependent on a system that will not offer all of the latest features of Apple's own development tools.



Adobe's CEO quickly fired back, disputing Jobs' claim that most Mac OS X crashes are caused by Flash, and instead suggesting those crashes are an issue with Apple's operating system. He also said the comments about Flash draining battery life were "patently false."



As Apple has banned Adobe Flash from its mobile devices, Adobe has responded by embracing Apple's chief competitor in the handset space, Google Android. This weekend, one report alleged that Adobe has plans to give its employees new Android phones running Flash Player 10.1, the new mobile version of the format set to be introduced at Google's I/O conference in May.



The Post noted that while Apple has continually portrayed itself as the underdog, its $237.6 billion market cap now exceeds Walmart, the largest retailer in the world. In addition, Apple last week became the largest phone maker in the U.S. after rival Motorola reported sales of 8.5 million handsets in the quarter, less than Apple's own sales of 8.75 million iPhones.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 208
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    What market are they supposedly monopolising? Not the smartphone market. The iPhone market?!

    If you define the market small enough, anyone is in breach of antitrust.
  • Reply 2 of 208
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    As Apple has banned Adobe Flash from its mobile devices,



    I wish you'd stop publicizing Adobe FUD.



    There IS no full version of Flash for ANY mobile device. Even Flash 10.1 which may come out this summer if Adobe ever manages to hit a target, requires an 800 MHz A8 processor - so it will not run on any phone with the iPhone's specs.



    I don't know how Apple can be said to have banned something that doesn't exist.



    They did, however, say that Flash is a lousy technology for mobile devices - and the fact that no one else has it today confirms that.





    This rumor is nonsense. Apple doesn't have a monopoly in the mobile phone space or even the smart phone market, so DOJ has nothing to say about it. FTC does not have regulatory authority to control how a vendor works with application developers, either.



    I think someone was listening to the Adobe shill-trolls in this group.
  • Reply 3 of 208
    paulmjohnsonpaulmjohnson Posts: 1,380member
    This has been coming for a while. Whilst I'm not sure you can say Apple have a large enough market share in any market to actually warrant action, but Apple have been acting in a way that was likely to eventually have regulators sniffing around.
  • Reply 4 of 208
    tumme-tottetumme-totte Posts: 147member
    Given the debate this was inevitable and I guess nothing strange as such.



    Will it lead to anything? In my opinion no. Why should it? I will not argue - arguments will follow soon enough and I don't think arguments will support that Apple's breaching any antitrust laws on any side of any lakes in the world.
  • Reply 5 of 208
    desuserigndesuserign Posts: 1,316member
    This will come to nothing.

    There's no "there" there!
  • Reply 6 of 208
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,271member
    This won't go anywhere.



    When it the last time the DoJ did anything beneficial for consumers? Go ahead...I'll wait.





    They simply cannot tell Apple what programming languages they have to support. There is no anti-trust here as people don't "have" get an iPhone if they want Flash.



    To the Dept of Justice. Stop wasting my f****ing tax dollars on frivolous BS. No one is afraid of the DoJ. If if was the IRS coming then that'd be different.
  • Reply 7 of 208
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,744member
    It'll come to nothing. But let them "inquire." Nothing wrong with that.
  • Reply 8 of 208
    mga-opmga-op Posts: 1member
    I love Photoshop and Photoshop? I used Flash for years ?. good tool, HTML5 and CSS3 are the future ! Adobe has made the Mac platform a second class citizen for far too long. what do they expect ?? ANTITRUST ???? The world is upside-down with BS these days and ignorance is the rule of the day !!! Media BS !!!
  • Reply 9 of 208
    ogun7ogun7 Posts: 6member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The Post reported on Monday



    Don't worry true believers. I live in New York City, and trust me the paper is a rag that my dog won't even poop on.This is just link fodder. It has the lowest circulation of any of the dailies here and is owned by Newscorp. Enough said.
  • Reply 10 of 208
    ricmacricmac Posts: 49member
    Nope, sorry, the idiots here are the Washington Post. They pulled this out of their ass. I can't even stretch my thinking far enough to imagine just what Apple has done that might be a violation. This is pure FUD.
  • Reply 11 of 208
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,754member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    I wish you'd stop publicizing Adobe FUD.



    There IS no full version of Flash for ANY mobile device. Even Flash 10.1 which may come out this summer if Adobe ever manages to hit a target, requires an 800 MHz A8 processor - so it will not run on any phone with the iPhone's specs.



    I don't know how Apple can be said to have banned something that doesn't exist.



    They did, however, say that Flash is a lousy technology for mobile devices - and the fact that no one else has it today confirms that.





    This rumor is nonsense. Apple doesn't have a monopoly in the mobile phone space or even the smart phone market, so DOJ has nothing to say about it. FTC does not have regulatory authority to control how a vendor works with application developers, either.



    I think someone was listening to the Adobe shill-trolls in this group.



    Quote:

    I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe’s Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads.

    Steven P. Jobs, April 2010



    Just because you don't like the taste, doesn't make it FUD and doesn't mean it isn't true. Apple is quite clear that they do not allow, i.e. ban, flash on the iPhone platform. How is it FUD to state what even Steve says is true? It is a simple fact that Apple does not allow Flash, mobile or otherwise, on the iPhone and they have clearly spelt out their reasons, most of which are quite valid.



    Defending Apple works best when it is informed and not a knee-jerk.



    Anyhoo, back to reality, this investigation has little chance of going anywhere unless the gov is willing to narrowly define the market in question as the iPhone OS platform.
  • Reply 12 of 208
    ssquirrelssquirrel Posts: 1,196member
    As stated, no version of Flash is available and the specs of the iPhone are below the 10.1, so it's hard for Apple to ban something non-existant.



    "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."



    Ok, so it blocks one specific method of app creation, but we have a list of several viable alternatives. When there are a number of viable alternatives, how the hell is there an antitrust concern?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tulkas View Post


    Apple is quite clear that they do not allow, i.e. ban, flash on the iPhone platform. How is it FUD to state what even Steve says is true? It is a simple fact that Apple does not allow Flash, mobile or otherwise, on the iPhone and they have clearly spelt out their reasons, most of which are quite valid.



    Ok so currently they are banning the incredibly shitty, incomplete Flash Lite? Boo hoo. Most cell phones don't support that program either. Apple is hardly alone here. Until 10.1 is relased, there is no full fledged version of Flash in the mobile arena
  • Reply 13 of 208
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,580member
    Apple should have nothing to worry about on this one. The iAD issue though is likely to be considered monopolistic behavior though, since they are using dominance in one area (mobile devices) to dominate a separate space (mobile advertising). Wonder what their lawyers and PR people have planned to say...
  • Reply 14 of 208
    kerrybkerryb Posts: 270member
    If forced to allow these apps into the App Store Apple could label them as such "Apple is not responsible for the performance of your mobile device or any possible security issues that may occur from using such app." When the apps fail to sell developers will freely abandon Flash as a tool and write using Apple sanctioned code. By letting these apps fail Adobe and Flash are shown for what they are, part of past technology and limited to dead market.
  • Reply 15 of 208
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,754member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SSquirrel View Post


    As stated, no version of Flash is available and the specs of the iPhone are below the 10.1, so it's hard for Apple to ban something non-existant.



    "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."



    Ok, so it blocks one specific method of app creation, but we have a list of several viable alternatives. When there are a number of viable alternatives, how the hell is there an antitrust concern?







    Ok so currently they are banning the incredibly shitty, incomplete Flash Lite? Boo hoo. Most cell phones don't support that program either. Apple is hardly alone here. Until 10.1 is relased, there is no full fledged version of Flash in the mobile arena



    Sure. They have valid reasons for banning Flash.



    But how does one state that there is no ban and to claim so is FUD and then argue that the reasons for the ban are justified by how shitty Flash is. Logic shouldn't go out the window when trying to make a point. In fact, it often helps.
  • Reply 16 of 208
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,271member
    Apple's under no obligation to promote cross platform tools. We still live in a capitalistic society and you are free to compete vigorously so long as you don't abuse monopoly powers.



    Apple can easily make the case for why Flash is inferior as an iPhone development language.
  • Reply 17 of 208
    drubledruble Posts: 62member
    self-removed
  • Reply 18 of 208
    williamgwilliamg Posts: 322member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SSquirrel View Post


    Ok, so it blocks one specific method of app creation, but we have a list of several viable alternatives. When there are a number of viable alternatives, how the hell is there an antitrust concern?










    I think that the concern is when the dominant player institutes rules that hinder competing companies.



    In this instance, the dominant app seller will not allow apps on its platform if they are manufactured in a manner which allows them to be also sold by competitors.



    I don't know if the concern is valid or not.
  • Reply 19 of 208
    drubledruble Posts: 62member
    self-removed
  • Reply 20 of 208
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,271member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WilliamG View Post


    I think that the concern is when the dominant player institutes rules that hinder competing companies.



    In this instance, the dominant app seller will not allow apps on its platform if they are manufactured in a manner which allows them to be also sold by competitors.



    I don't know if the concern is valid or not.



    I think it would depend on the reasons for Apple disallowing Flash. If Flash was considered a "peer" programming language to C/C++/Objective C etc then it would be harder for Apple to justify their motives but Flash is primarily a web based tool that can aid in developing basic apps but it's raison d'être is creating cross platform apps and I don't know what Gov expects to tell a company that they must work against their own best interests and aid their competition.



    Apple has roughly 25% of the smartphone market. A far cry from a monopoly.
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