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

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 238
    rbonnerrbonner Posts: 635member
    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?
  • Reply 2 of 238
    The EU is now in on it? Good luck Apple. They don't tend to be nice to big, market leading companies.
  • Reply 3 of 238
    kerrybkerryb Posts: 270member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 238
    ozexigeozexige Posts: 215member
    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
  • Reply 5 of 238
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Good luck with trying to put an end to the free market, Adobe. You’ll need it.
  • Reply 6 of 238
    sendmesendme Posts: 567member
    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.
  • Reply 7 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.
  • Reply 8 of 238
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member
    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?
  • Reply 9 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.
  • Reply 10 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.
  • Reply 11 of 238
    zoolookzoolook Posts: 657member
    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!
  • Reply 12 of 238
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 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?



    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.
  • Reply 14 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.
  • Reply 15 of 238
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,582member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 238
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,716member
    Wait, what mobile devices run the full version of Flash? Because I don't remember seeing any...
  • Reply 17 of 238
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 18 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 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!



    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?
  • Reply 19 of 238
    sendmesendme Posts: 567member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 238
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member
    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.
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