Former labor secretary suggests FTC police banks rather than Apple

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Former secretary of labor Robert Reich, who served under Bill Clinton during the Microsoft monopoly trial, has published a high profile article castigating the Federal Trade Commissions' purported investigation of Apple.



The article asks "Why is the Federal Trade Commission threatening Apple with a possible lawsuit for abusing its economic power, but not even raising an eyebrow about the huge and growing economic (and political) muscle of JP Morgan Chase or any of the other four remaining giant banks on Wall Street?"



Reich wrote, "Our future well being depends more on people like Steve Jobs who invent real products that can improve our lives, than it does on people like [JPMorgan Chase chief executive] Jamie Dimon who invent financial products that do little other than threaten our economy."



If Apple is wrong on Flash, it will fail



"Apple?s supposed sin," Reich notes, "was to tell software developers that if they want to make apps for iPhones and iPads they have to use Apple programming tools. No more outside tools (like Adobe?s Flash format) that can run on rival devices like Google?s Android phones and RIM?s BlackBerrys.



"What?s wrong with that? Apple says it?s necessary to maintain quality. If consumers disagree they can buy platforms elsewhere. Apple was the world?s #3 smartphone supplier in 2009, with 16.2 percent of worldwide market share. RIM was #2, with 18.8 percent. Google isn?t exactly a wallflower. These and other firms are innovating like mad, as are tens of thousands of independent developers. If Apple?s decision reduces the number of future apps that can run on its products, Apple will suffer and presumably change its mind."



If big banks go wrong, everybody fails



Reich notes that among the massive banks, "if one of them makes a bad decision it can take us all down."



"So why is the FTC nosing around Apple and not around Wall Street? Because the Federal Trade Commission Act allows the agency to stop 'unfair methods of competition' almost anywhere in the economy except in the financial sector. Banks are explicitly excluded. Another reason for financial reform."



Reich concludes, "Hands off Apple. But cut the big banks down to size."



Adobe seeking antitrust help to preserve its Flash monopoly



Adobe has recently intensified its complaints against Apple related to the company's refusal to distribute Flash. Adobe's strategy for using its Flash and AIR platforms to allow software to be written once and run on multiple devices is taking a beating by the iPhone OS' lack of support for third party plugin platforms, including Flash, AIR, Java and Silverlight.



Adobe chief technology officer Kevin Lynch recently described the current landscape as being like 19th century railroads, where "people were using different gauged rails." The problem for Adobe is that in the 19th century, that problem was solved by government decree that railroads adopt a free, open standard for interoperability, and not by forced adoption of a third party vendor's proprietary rail gauge.



Apple has already adopted HTML5 and related free, open web standards as the common rail gauge for web applications on the iPhone OS, even developing frameworks to assist in the creation of web pages that look and act like native apps.



At the same time, Apple also operates its native App Store as a custom, proprietary platform that operates on its own gauge, much like high speed rail, where interoperability with common rail traffic is not necessary or even desirable.



Adobe's Flash is a proprietary rail gauge of its own, and despite its monopoly over dynamic content on the desktop, it simply does not yet run on mobile devices.



In the video below, an Android prototype tablet is presented as running Flash, "unlike the iPad," despite crashing on an attempt to play YouTube videos. Like other iPhone OS devices, iPad plays YouTube without need for Flash.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    franktinsleyfranktinsley Posts: 163member
    Finally something reasoned to read.
  • Reply 2 of 42
    Flash doesn't even run reliably on an Android tablet... I don't know how much good can come from Adobe giving their employees smaller Android phones running Flash.
  • Reply 3 of 42
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,953member
    Reich is a pretty smart guy. And cool too. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWliy...=youtube_gdata
  • Reply 4 of 42
    jmmxjmmx Posts: 341member
    "Adobe's Flash is a proprietary rail gauge of its own, and despite its monopoly over dynamic content on the desktop, it simply does not yet run on mobile devices."



    Flash is a rusted out, tin lizzie, and if it ran on the iPhone it would only clog up the tracks. If Adobe's technical director spent half as much time getting his house in order instead of wining like a middle-school diva-wannabe who didn't get an invite to the cool party, then maybe they would have a product worth saving.
  • Reply 5 of 42
    macinthe408macinthe408 Posts: 1,050member
    If Flash is the only metric the competition is using to make its case against the iPad, then god help them.



    If Google releases a wooden box with a sundial on top THAT RUNS FLASH, they'll be touting how much better it is than an iPad. Reminds me of the days when critics thought the iPhone sucked because of its lack of cut-and-paste, one measly feature.
  • Reply 6 of 42
    jmmxjmmx Posts: 341member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    reich is a pretty smart guy. And cool too. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwliy...=youtube_gdata



    --- lmao!! ---
  • Reply 7 of 42
    bspearsbspears Posts: 147member
    Finally a voice of reason. I predict he will soon be silenced by the stampeding herd of beltway morons and well financed third party interests. Too bad because he is right fscking on target.
  • Reply 8 of 42
    ash471ash471 Posts: 705member
    What a great article. Reich's analysis is good, but Prince McLean's railroad analysis is fantastic. Is it your own work? I'm a patent attorney at a relatively large firm. I was reading this article for its antitrust content. However, I'd have to say McLean's analysis of the railroad analogy is a knock out argument. Ouch! How embarrassing for Adobe. Someone should pass the analysis on to Steve Jobs so he can work it into a presentation at the WWDC.
  • Reply 9 of 42
    webpoet73webpoet73 Posts: 112member
    I absolutely don't want Air on iPad or iPod/iPhone... I haven't yet used an Air app that didn't either suck or suck the life out of my machine...and Flash is just as bad. The only thing I miss in my iPad experience is those darn Facebook games...



    Not to mention that cross-developed apps will never feel like native apps... i still have that feeling when I use Firefox... feels like a PC app translated to the Mac... and it sucks the life out of my machine too... hence I use Safari now.
  • Reply 10 of 42
    bugsnwbugsnw Posts: 711member
    I find myself agreeing with a lot of Reich's comments and articles. Or at least parts of them. Spending during a recession is sometimes necessary. The problem is what kind of spending. Any govt. program with a mix of massive spending and targeted tax cuts will have detractors. Personally, I would have gone with higher tax cuts for a broad base of small businesses.



    But Reich championed NAFTA so at least he understands the power of free trade. And he champions Apple so he obviously values free market competition. I wish Obama would take a listen.
  • Reply 11 of 42
    straskstrask Posts: 107member
    It seems bizarre that the FTC would investigate Apple, whose only "monopoly" is with regard to the content on the products they invent and market, on behalf of a company, Adobe, who have an actual monopoly on the software used to develop certain kinds of internet content. Sadly, so few judges have a good understanding of how computer technology works and so are likely to make rulings based on misinformation and misunderstanding.



    It would be helpful, when looking at a closed system like the iPhone or iPad, to look at other closed technology systems. Is GM or Toyota forced to install air conditioners or stereos or fuel injection systems that aren't part of their auto design? Both of those companies control a far larger share of the auto market than Apple does either the computer market or the mobile phone markets. Or even the more limited smartphone market. If suppliers want to provide parts for factory installation by those companies, then they must build them according to company specifications. Companies that build parts for the auto after market build those parts in accordance with the design of the car. Would anyone even think of demanding that major auto makers leave room in their designs for after market parts that are different in size or power requirements or connectivity to those installed at the factory? No, of course not. Every car on the road would be the Powell Motors Homer.



    For that matter, could anyone imagine a patent being granted for "A car that can run on gasoline but also has a battery for electric power and can be plugged in to a standard outlet," with a crude drawing of a car with an extension cable running to it for accompanying documentation? But if the Patents Office thought about autos the way they do software and computer gadgets, GM and Toyota and Nissan would all be on the verge of being on the receiving end of billion dollar lawsuits.
  • Reply 12 of 42
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,889member
    I'm surprised to see Reich weigh in on this, but I'm glad that he did and I totally agree with him.



    I have sometimes found reich to be a little dogmatic, but I think he has generally been on target these last few years.
  • Reply 13 of 42
    holderadholderad Posts: 2member
    I agree. The FTC investigation has made me so angry that I just went to the FTC website and filed a complaint against the FTC for fraud, waste, and abuse in investigating one of the most innovative companies in America. Apple has bent over backward to keep its platform development open. After having worked in a government organization for the last 18 years, I am 100% sure there are several individuals within the FTC that are receiving money or favors for pushing this little investigation...where was the FTC when the banks were crashing and Bernie was on the take? This is ridiculous.
  • Reply 14 of 42
    christopher126christopher126 Posts: 4,254member
    All excellent comments so far....wasn't a big fan of Reich until I saw a lot on "This Week with....."



    Very intelligent guy and makes some very valid points.



    Can't remember where I read it, perhaps WSJ, but an attorney weighed in saying that the FTC would only have a case if Apple were the only OS/cellphone provider...clearly not the case, ergo no 'monopoly!'



    Oh well, once again a portion of, albeit small, Apple's resources are diverted from creating game changing sw/hd and dealing with frivolous diversions!
  • Reply 15 of 42
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,985member
    Awesome, always liked him.
  • Reply 16 of 42
    spotonspoton Posts: 645member
    Quote:

    "Apple?s supposed sin," Reich notes, "was to tell software developers that if they want to make apps for iPhones and iPads they have to use Apple programming tools. No more outside tools (like Adobe?s Flash format) that can run on rival devices like Google?s Android phones and RIM?s BlackBerrys.



    "What?s wrong with that? Apple says it?s necessary to maintain quality.





    What developers says is that if it costs $70,000 to develop a app for most all platforms, it costs another $70,000 to recode it for Apple´s exclusive devices.



    Crap apps can appear on either, a $100 brush doesn´t a artist make. A good artist can use any tool, the talent is in the hands, just that they are better with better tools.



    This is not about quality, this is about the war on Flash. Because the process of abolishing Flash doesn´t improve the quality of crappy apps made according to Apple´s directions.



    Apple should have never gotten into the App Store business and closed their devices, they should have made the devices open and restrict things in the iPhone OS instead.



    There are nearly 200,000 crap apps on the App Store, only a small portion are made by Flash, so how is Steve going to attempt to improve the quality of those apps?



    Love Steve, but I smell sh*t and it stinks.
  • Reply 17 of 42
    curtisemaylecurtisemayle Posts: 377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Holderad View Post


    ...



    ...where was the FTC when the banks were crashing and Bernie was on the take? This is ridiculous.



    My understanding is that, per the FTC Act, the banking industry is not in their purview.



    If my interpretation is correct, title 15 > chapter 2 > subchapter I > § 57a > subsection (f) only establishes that the FTC mandates that the banking institutions "establish a separate division of consumer affairs which shall receive and take appropriate action upon complaints with respect to such acts or practices by banks or savings and loan institutions."
  • Reply 18 of 42
    ssquirrelssquirrel Posts: 1,196member
    In many cases, code from creating an app for the iPhone can be reused when making it for another platform. For example, anything C that doesn't call specifically Apple APIs. So $70k for Apple and spending the same amount to create it on another platform is probably bullshit. There are 200k apps on the App Store, so you're saying all the apps on the App Store are crap? Yeah, this is why you have no credibility.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CurtisEMayle View Post


    My understanding is that, per the FTC Act, the banking industry is not in their purview.



    This is correct. So if the FTC isn't the one who polices the banks, who does? Only FDIC?
  • Reply 19 of 42
    chiachia Posts: 692member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpotOn View Post


    There are nearly 200,000 crap apps on the App Store, only a small portion are made by Flash, so how is Steve going to attempt to improve the quality of those apps?



    Love Steve, but I smell sh*t and it stinks.



    The only bad smell around here is your attitude towards the iPhone apps: you've labelled every single app as crap in the App store; that's simply untrue.



    The iPhone is the first mobile I've owned that's actually grown on me the more I use it and I I've had a lot of mobiles during the past twelve years. Apple weren't the first to have an App store for their mobiles - you may be surprised to know that it was possible to get mini Java apps for Nokia phones as early as 2002 - but it was the first to create an appealing and straightforward way to acquire and manage apps on your phone.



    My previous phone was a HTC TyTn II aka Tilt. It had Windows Mobile 6.0 which I later upgraded to 6.1. It was usable but I found the user interface bizarre and illogical, not a patch on the iPhone. It had an unpleasant habit of frequently resetting itself, often midway through a call. I got an iPhone and have never looked back since.



    I'm with Steve on this issue of third party development tools, it encourages going to the lowest common denominator, perhaps even laziness.

    Using them is like using Google translate to publish a book in a different language.

    It's possible but would it be the best translation to carry the nuances of meaning and expression from the original into the target language?



    Adobe is looking desperate. There are plenty of other smartphone operating systems yet Adobe insists on forcing itself into the iPhone mansion.
  • Reply 20 of 42
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,889member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpotOn View Post


    Crap apps can appear on either, a $100 brush doesn´t a artist make. A good artist can use any tool, the talent is in the hands, just that they are better with better tools.



    The fact that bad apps can be made with any tool is irrelevant. The question is, when all else is equal (ability of the developer, originality of the idea, financial resources, etc), will apps made with Apple's own tools be better than apps made with cross-platform tools that do not take advantage of iPhone-specific features?



    And the answer depends entirely on the value of those iPhone-specific features. If Apple has a better platform, then apps that take advantage of that platform will be better than those that don't, all else being equal.



    And let me just say this again: "ALL ELSE BEING EQUAL". And in case you still don't get it, here it is in Latin "ceteris paribus". And if you need a link, here it is:



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceteris_paribus
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