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Apple May Face Antitrust Inquiry 457

Posted by Soulskill
from the upsetting-the-apple-cart dept.
suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from the NY Post: "According to a person familiar with the matter, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are locked in negotiations over which of the watchdogs will begin an antitrust inquiry into Apple's new policy of requiring software developers who devise applications for devices such as the iPhone and iPad to use only Apple's programming tools. Regulators, this person said, are days away from making a decision about which agency will launch the inquiry. 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. An inquiry doesn't necessarily mean action will be taken against Apple, which argues the rule is in place to ensure the quality of the apps it sells to customers. Typically, regulators initiate inquiries to determine whether a full-fledged investigation ought to be launched. If the inquiry escalates to an investigation, the agency handling the matter would issue Apple a subpoena seeking information about the policy."
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Apple May Face Antitrust Inquiry

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  • [sigh] (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Space cowboy (13680) * on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:29PM (#32076604) Journal
    Interesting points:
    • Up until recently, there was *no* way to get compiled apps on the phone. You were stuck with web "apps". Apparently that was fine, but allowing apps and restricting the development language is not ?
    • Apple's policy does not (as TFA claims) require the developer to use only Apple's programming tools. It just requires the developer to use C, ObjC, or C++. There's no requirement that those tools originate from Apple.
    • 3rd-parties (like Unity) do (at first glance) appear to be screwed. Apparently, though, Apple are talking to the Unity authors, and continue to approve Unity games - this latter point could be a problem for them in fact. Monotouch were making the point that they are different to Flash, but given point 6 on Steve's creed [apple.com], I don't see a good future for them either.
    • Most (not all) antitrust legislation is aimed at preventing monopoly exploitation of alternate markets. There is little evidence that Apple has any sort of monopoly unless the category is defined so narrowly as to be useless.
    • Users are free to choose another device if they feel that strongly about the situation. My hunch is that /. won't accurately represent the marketplace, however.
    • I still don't see why Apple aren't allowed to set the terms of participation in their program. If you sign up as an iphone/ipod/ipad developer, you know what you're getting into, and you know they can change their rules at any time. Don't come whining when you don't like it any more

    Now normal service can resume, and the anyone-but-Apple brigade can froth gently at the mouth while insisting their rants are somehow not the mirror image of the "fanbois" they detest so much.

    Simon.

  • You know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:29PM (#32076616) Homepage

    ...I can understand where Apple is coming from, as far as wanting to maintain the quality of the programs available to its users, but that is still a thinly veiled attempt at justifying keeping their devices locked down tighter than a million dollar whore.

    For a company whose users have been stereotyped as hipsters, they really love to retain control over EVERYTHING they sell.

  • by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:41PM (#32076768)
    I am not at all fond of Apple's "use only our tools" stance, however I'm wondering exactly how they define anti-trust in this case? I understand that Apple is dictating devs to use their toolset, but how does this kill competitoin? Apple doesn't say you can ONLY develop for iPhone, they simply say to use X-Code for iPhone dev. Is it because Apple has a "monopoly" on their own products? Does the DoJ like Flash? Seriously, I can get that people are pissed off at Apple, but if you don't want to play, don't. Apple does not have a monopoly on touch screen phones, or tablet like devices, not by a long shot, and I fail to see how Apple telling it's developers that they need to use Apple tools as an anti-trust issue. Next we're going to hear from the DoJ that Apple is being investigated because OS X is only licensed for Macs? Maybe they will force Microsoft to develop Office for Linux, because I like Office and dammit I should be able to run Office on my Ubuntu machine. MS is forcing me to buy Windows or a Mac to run Office and that is anti-competitive behavior. Maybe the FTC and the DoJ should focus a little more on why we had to bail out the banks and Wall street and on how the behavior on their part hasn't changed very much. Or maybe Steve Jobs should buddy up with those guys and pay them a little more?
  • Re:You know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:41PM (#32076774) Homepage

    That's just it -- they don't sell anything. Apparently, according to Apple, you are not allowed to re-sell in any way you see fit. When you own it, you cannot use it in any way you see fit. Apparently, you don't own it -- you have just licensed its use.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:43PM (#32076794)

    I hope they roast Apple's fruity little ass with the biggest legal flamethrower they have stuck aside.

    No, you don't. Consequences for them could also mean consequences for the product you like.

    Maybe something will come of this, maybe it won't, but here's to hoping.

    The 'good' you want to happen could mean Android has less of an edge to compete with them. Apple's "walled garden" is an opportunity for something more open to sneak in.

    There are lines that you cannot legally cross, and Apple very well may have done so.

    Only if you dislike Apple. Take that away and then obvious questions come up like "Is Nintendo next?"

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:43PM (#32076802)

    Up until recently, there was *no* way to get compiled apps on the phone. You were stuck with web "apps". Apparently that was fine, but allowing apps and restricting the development language is not ?

    A web app though is more or less platform neutral though. The entire point of this inquiry is that when you develop an app for the iPhone you have to almost completely re-write it for every other platform discouraging developers to port to other OSes.

    Most (not all) antitrust legislation is aimed at preventing monopoly exploitation of alternate markets. There is little evidence that Apple has any sort of monopoly unless the category is defined so narrowly as to be useless.

    The point of the investigation is to investigate if the point of Apple's restrictions is to create more or less an app store monopoly by preventing the approval of apps that would work on multiple platforms.

    For example, lets say I just made the game Zombie Attack. If I made it in a platform neutral language like what Adobe has I would be able to ship the game on PC, Mac, iPhone OS, Android, BlackBerry OS, Linux, etc. with minimal changes. On the other hand, if I wrote it for the iPhone with the iPhone SDK, I would have to completely re-write the game to get it to run on any of the other platforms.

    This, in essence allows Apple with a large percentage of smartphone sales to dominate the market by effectivly "blocking" their apps from appearing in competitor's stores because of the pain it takes to recode the program.

    I still don't see why Apple aren't allowed to set the terms of participation in their program. If you sign up as an iphone/ipod/ipad developer, you know what you're getting into, and you know they can change their rules at any time. Don't come whining when you don't like it any more

    Because their terms of participation is blocking free competition for most users who don't jailbreak.

    The problem isn't that Apple can set the terms, it is that Apple is setting the terms -only- to prevent people from coding the same app and running it other places, so Apple can have the app exclusively and keeping people tied into the iPhone rather than the cheaper, diverse and more feature filled Android, BlackBerry, and other phones.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:49PM (#32076884) Homepage Journal
    if apple went ahead with that policy, and tried to practice it, Eu would eventually bitchslap them into changing it. And what Eu does is nothing like what FTC does - When microsoft tried to stall compliance with Eu's decision, Eu started fining them 500,000 Euros a day. Suddenly microsoft managed to come up with a compliance plan that was implementable in acceptable time. Now we have ballot boxes in ms oses sold in europe.

    FTC would be way too soft on american corporations, due to the lobbyism plague there is in america.

    apple should thank ftc.
  • Re:[sigh] (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mejogid (1575619) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:50PM (#32076916)
    You come up with some fair points, I'm not so sure they're relevant though.
    • In a short space of time they have achieved what's approaching a mobile application monopoly, and have come up with a load of very restrictive policies to make it difficult for developers to target multiple platforms, so in this way restricted compiled apps are far more anti-competitive than open spec web apps.
    • They're not forced to use those tools - but are forced to use Apple's APIs and languages, which severely limits the ability of 3rd party IDEs to differentiate themselves. I'm not sure where to access the current version of the developer's agreement, but wouldn't be surprised if there was some sort of restriction to xcode.
    • I'd say if anything that's more abusive - selectively blocking out the competition but letting it in elsewhere when they benefit your platform. Also - point six has nothing to do with monotouch, they've added every new set of APIs within hours because they directly reference them.
    • Apple's policies ensure that if a developer wants access to their market then they're not going to be able to easily reuse that code elsewhere, handicapping other platforms that are themselves barely worth targeting because they don't benefit from multi-platform development. In that sense they could be seen as expanding a mobile application monopoly into a mobile devices monopoly.
    • Right, but Apple's policies are trying to remove viable alternatives for users interested in mobile applications.
    • Right, but that applies to pretty much any government regulation. The issue at stake here is whether the consumer would benefit from Apple's restrictions and consequent control over developers and consumers being lifted. In my opinion they would.
    • I think it really comes down to whether or not their dominance over mobile apps is sufficient to count as a monopoly - and even if it isn't currently, it could well become one with expansion into the MID market with the iPad.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:51PM (#32076920)

    The problem with that argument is that this is Apples hardware and platform, not Adobe. Adobe did a disservice to their developers by pushing for something that they have absolutely no control over then blame Apple when get thrown out of the party.

    Now, why do you tell me how many other phones out there support Flash in its entirety? And please forget Flash lite as it only plays old Flash video files but not the games.

  • Re:Tying (Score:3, Insightful)

    by natehoy (1608657) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:54PM (#32076966) Journal

    Yes, this isn't really an antitrust issue. The iPhone/iPod/iPad do not have an exclusive in any market area, and it's really easy to find alternatives if you don't like what Apple is doing with their lock-in.

    The Nokia 5800, for example, is nearly as good as the iPhone in many ways, and is better in others. Around $250 can get you an unlocked phone (no contract required) with WiFi (so you could skip the data plan if you wanted to) and qualifies you for the AT&T $15 data plan instead of the $30 one the iPhone requires if you decide you want data on the go. Plus it's got a 3 megapixel camera, a second camera on the front for video conferencing, and the usual things you expect in a phone like a replaceable battery, mass-storage support, upgradeable memory, etc.

    The point is not to directly compare the two handsets as much as to demonstrate a specific example of why Apple does not have an exclusive lock-in on the touchscreen smartphone market. Blackberry and many other companies have their own entries in the ring, many of them are very capable units, and all of them except Apple currently allow pretty open development policies. So if openness is a criteria for you, Apple isn't the right answer for you. If you like the way Apple is doing things, then there's an Apple for that. You have a choice, therefore antitrust law should not apply.

    If and when Apple exceeds 80% smartphone market share, is required in order to perform some function that no other device can replace, and/or starts telling developers that they cannot port the same product they submit to Apple to any other platform, then we'll talk about "Antitrust". But I don't see any of that happening any time soon.

    As it stands, from what I can see, Apple is just nannying their users and annoying their developers, which (IMHO) is bad for their product and bad for their brand, but is their decision to make since there are plenty of other (arguably better, though that depends on your priorities and personal preferences) smartphones on the market.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ircmaxell (1117387) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:58PM (#32077030) Homepage

    Most (not all) antitrust legislation is aimed at preventing monopoly exploitation of alternate markets. There is little evidence that Apple has any sort of monopoly unless the category is defined so narrowly as to be useless.

    Well, there is some prior case history on this. Back in the late 90's, MS was found guilty of exploiting a monopoly with Windows with regards to Netscape and Internet Explorer. They used their market position with Windows to push IE onto Windows Users. Never mind the fact that alternative operating systems existed. Never mind the fact that people COULD install other browsers once they installed Windows. They looked at the market space that was defined by Windows programs, and looked to see if MS was abusing that space. It's not a far fetched idea to translate that to the iPhone issue. Apple is locking off their internal market space by using what is a monopolistic hold on their operating system. The difference here, is that people CANNOT install competing software from another source than Apple. So in a sense, it is a clearer case than MS lost.

    Users are free to choose another device if they feel that strongly about the situation.

    And people were free to chose a different OS from Windows. Yet they still found the MS exploited a monopolistic hold on the OS to push IE. Apple clearly does have a monopolistic hold on the iPhone OS (Even stronger of one than MS did). The question is not are people free to choose another device, but are those with the device free to choose another avenue of operation (away from Apple). The average user isn't told that their phone won't run non-Apple approved apps before hand. The average user isn't told "If you don't like these policies, don't buy this phone". They are told "Check out what this phone can do!", and "Look at all these apps it can run!". Not to mention that once they buy the phone, they are locked into a multi-year contract which will cost them money to terminate. So at absolute least, if this is not an abuse of monopolistic power, it is a case of deceptive advertising. They are not presenting users with a fair and complete choice. They are showing one side of it, and then locking down the other. So yes, users are free to choose another device, but they aren't given enough information (without going out and knowing what to look for) to make that choice intelligently.

    I still don't see why Apple aren't allowed to set the terms of participation in their program. If you sign up as an iphone/ipod/ipad developer, you know what you're getting into, and you know they can change their rules at any time.

    Well, it's quite simple. They are allowed to set the terms of participation. However, I don't think they should be able to change their rules at any time (And/Or enforce them retroactively). If I signed up and agreed to their terms 6 months ago, I would be abiding by their rules to develop in {insert language x here} and convert to ObjC for submission. So I spend 6 months working on my application, only to be told today when I submit that it's no good because they "changed their rules". In my mind, there are few clearer examples of abuse of market position than that. It's an arbitrary rule set out do nothing but exact control (They have reasons why they did it, presumably to stick another knife in Adobe). But it does have significant collateral damage (being the developers who now have lost time because they were following the rules a month ago). And those interests do need to be protected.

    Just my $0.02...

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:58PM (#32077032)

    Your analogy is suggesting operating systems - Apple does not sign apps to run on OS X.

    A more accurate description would be "imagine MS controlling what apps and what developer environment was used for mobile Windows"... oh wait, they do.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Achromatic1978 (916097) <{robert} {at} {chromablue.net}> on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:59PM (#32077044)
    It's funny, when its in their favor, Apple fanboys here talk about the iPhone outselling every other phone (though it's not)... they talk about it being so amazingly popular in the market, and of the huge demand...

    When it's not, they say "Look around, we're just a little fish in a big pond!"...

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:07PM (#32077138)

    Interesting points:

    • Up until recently, there was *no* way to get compiled apps on the phone. You were stuck with web "apps". Apparently that was fine, but allowing apps and restricting the development language is not ?

    Not relevant.

    • Apple's policy does not (as TFA claims) require the developer to use only Apple's programming tools. It just requires the developer to use C, ObjC, or C++. There's no requirement that those tools originate from Apple.

    Doublespeak.

    • 3rd-parties (like Unity) do (at first glance) appear to be screwed. Apparently, though, Apple are talking to the Unity authors, and continue to approve Unity games - this latter point could be a problem for them in fact. Monotouch were making the point that they are different to Flash, but given point 6 on Steve's creed [apple.com], I don't see a good future for them either.

    i.e. Collusion or special privilege; which is a nontrivial component of the problem and frankly not a new complaint in this domain.

    • Most (not all) antitrust legislation is aimed at preventing monopoly exploitation of alternate markets. There is little evidence that Apple has any sort of monopoly unless the category is defined so narrowly as to be useless.

    This obviously belongs in the other bucket.

    • Users are free to choose another device if they feel that strongly about the situation. My hunch is that /. won't accurately represent the marketplace, however.

    Not relevant.

    • I still don't see why Apple aren't allowed to set the terms of participation in their program. If you sign up as an iphone/ipod/ipad developer, you know what you're getting into, and you know they can change their rules at any time. Don't come whining when you don't like it any more

    Does not compute.

    Now normal service can resume, and the anyone-but-Apple brigade can froth gently at the mouth while insisting their rants are somehow not the mirror image of the "fanbois" they detest so much.

    Simon.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AshtangiMan (684031) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:07PM (#32077148)
    It seems like you're overstating the case. As an app developer I can code something for Windows, but will have to separate the API calls if I want to easily port for KDE (for instance). Assuming I write in C/C++ I can do this, with extra effort. I could also write my app in Flash so that it is portable, but I then have to accept the limitations of Flash. In this case, for the iPhone it seems to be the same situation, with the limitations for Flash being that it does not work. So I can still develop an app that I want to market for the iPhone as well as other mobile (or even desktop) environments, and the situation is no different than it has been at any time in the world of computers. That is if I want to easily port my app to different platforms I will have to abstract the platform dependant portions so that I can re-use the rest of the code directly, and have separate bits of code for the various APIs and such. While I don't necessarily agree with Apple's iPhone policies, I don't see anything anticompetitive with regards to this particular policy (you must develop only in C, C++, or objC).
  • Re:[sigh] (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:09PM (#32077166) Journal

    It's funny, when its in their favor, Apple fanboys here talk about the iPhone outselling every other phone (though it's not)... they talk about it being so amazingly popular in the market, and of the huge demand...

    When it's not, they say "Look around, we're just a little fish in a big pond!"...

    Huh? Where did you get that? I see nothing in the OP that makes such a statement at all. All it says is this:

    The first thing you have to prove in a tying case is that Apple has market power.

    He or she is saying that that is the first thing that will have to be proved, not that Apple doesn't have market power.

    You need to stop letting your ideology get in the way of your reading comprehension. None of this stuff matters all that much beyond the boundaries of Slashdot.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:4, Insightful)

    by s73v3r (963317) <`s73v3r' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:11PM (#32077188)
    Other way around. You can't use their APIs unless you're using ObjC, C/C++.
  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Achromatic1978 (916097) <{robert} {at} {chromablue.net}> on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:14PM (#32077230)
    And I spent a year on OS X, and am now running Windows 7 and haven't looked back. Apple must be doing something wrong.

    Not sure the point you're trying to make ...

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mini me (132455) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:14PM (#32077232)

    I would have to completely re-write the game to get it to run on any of the other platforms.

    I am not sure that is really true. Section 3.3.1, as far as I can tell, places no restrictions on supporting code (think 3rd party libraries). What you are required to do is write any code that links against Apple's provided APIs to be originally written in C, C++, or Objective-C (hereafter known as C-family languages).

    What this means to you is that you can write your program in Flash, write a compiler* to convert the Flash output to code that can be executed natively**, and write an application in the C-family language of your choosing to provide a bridge between your own APIs used by the compiled flash code and Apple's frameworks.

    No matter how you slice it, if you want your compiled Flash code (or any kind of platform neutral code) to run on any device you would have to provide an intermediary between the Flash API and the platform APIs. Even before the change in license, Apple's APIs required that your language be compatible with linking against C and Objective-C frameworks. Naturally, most developers will choose to implement the necessary bridge in a C-family language. As far as developers are concerned, nothing has really changed, save a few edge cases.

    * Because interpreting code is forbidden
    ** Required step because Adobe will no longer be releasing theirs

  • by cbreak (1575875) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:14PM (#32077236)
    Probably not. It's the "Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission", not the EU.
  • Re:[sigh] (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordVader717 (888547) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:18PM (#32077304)

    1) Seriously? Either you're joking or you truly are a hardcore "fanboi". And even for the phones which couldn't install software, at least they were non-discriminate about it. That's sort of what this "anti-trust" stuff is all about.

    3) So what? Apple have proven that they'll screw over anyone who doesn't fit in their scheme. I don't see why we should give them any benefit for "apparently talking with Unity"

    4) Anti-trust, or competition law, is to prevent anti-competitive behavior. There's a myth going round here on Slashdot that companies have to be a monopoly before they have to obey the law. But that's just fantasy.

    5) The same could be said for any business or government. That still doesn't make their actions right.

    6) We're discussing whether Apple has acted illegally, not whether or not it fits in their EULA.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Duradin (1261418) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:32PM (#32077536)
    "Apple just forced everyone in the US to pay 50% more for books." For all ebooks priced at exactly $0.66 or that are free your statement is correct.
  • Re:[sigh] (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:32PM (#32077540)

    Really? Please tell me how to develop for iphone without ever buying a mac.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:36PM (#32077604)

    "when you develop an app for the iPhone you have to almost completely re-write it for every other platform discouraging developers to port to other OSes."

    Not if you follow Apple's own coding recommendations. You have to rewrite the GUI code and OS interaction stuff but that's it. All the backend logic etc. should port just fine, so long as your target platform can run C or C++ code.

    No, you can't just write some code and have it run on anything, as is. That's kind of Apple's point: they want everyone to make sure anything the user sees is customized for the device.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:38PM (#32077650)

    All Apple needs to do to avoid this is publish performance and stability guidelines that can only be met by Objective-C or C++ code...

    So what happens if Adobe CS5 which can take a flash app and emit objective-C for it meets those performance and stability guidelines?

    The primary reason Apple has this rule is to prevent flash apps from being so easily ported to its platform.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:42PM (#32077714)

    I'm not an iPhone developer, but I am a developer, but as I understand it you cannot write an iPhone app without using Apple's APIs. As such, the "openness" of C,C++, and Objective C is irrelevant because the meat of your code is going to involve API calls that will not work anywhere else.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blackraven14250 (902843) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:48PM (#32077798)
    If you can't use the undocumented APIs, and you can't use a wrapper around Apple's APIs, and you can't access hardware directly, you're directly tied to Apple's documented APIs, which ties the application very tightly to Apple's device.
  • Likely Outcomes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alvinrod (889928) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:07PM (#32078076)
    1. They look into it, but decide not to pursue legal action against Apple. I'd say there's a moderately good chance that they decide it's not worth bringing suit against Apple. Good for Apple, questionable for users, bad for third party developers. Nothing really changes.

    2. They look into it, bring legal action against Apple and Apple is forced to change their policy. Bad for Apple, questionable for users, good for third party developers.

    3. They look into it, threaten suit against Apple, and Apple meets them halfway by allowing third party apps to be installed outside of the App Store, possibly by downloading them to your computer and syncing them from there. Probably the solution where everyone is at least somewhat satisfied. Apple keeps control of their store, third party developers still have a way to get their software on the phone, and users can install anything they want without requiring Apple's permission.

    I say questionable in cases 1 and 2 because it may reduce the overall quality of software on the App Store resulting in more choices for users and a larger selection of apps, but the possibility of getting craptacular cross-platform apps the run into the lowest common denominator issue Steve mentioned in his post. It really depends on your overall philosophy.
  • Re:[sigh] (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dzfoo (772245) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:12PM (#32078132)

    Actually, it is plainly obvious from Mr. Jobs' comments that the point of the restriction is to prevent cross-platform applications. Apple wants iPhone apps to be designed for the iPhone, not ported from another platform.

          -dZ.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:4, Insightful)

    by e4g4 (533831) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:32PM (#32078438)
    But they're not controlling "the market"; they are only controlling their portion of the market. Their impact on "the market" as a whole, appears to have been to force competitors to make phones of comparable quality/usability; this, IMHO, is indeed the case, as there is a plethora of excellent Android (and otherwise) based products on "the market", and more coming. This antitrust stuff all seems a little bit premature, to me - Apple has by no means yet earned the right to say they "control the market".
  • Re:[sigh] (Score:2, Insightful)

    by painandgreed (692585) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:42PM (#32078572)

    I hadn't thought of this, and this is exactly right. I don't even think they need to find an email: this seems (perhaps illegally) anti-competitive on its face.

    There is a pretty opaque wall to what is going on at Apple and Adobe. For all we know there are emails of Apple telling Adobe not to do it because it will fail well in advance. Other bloggers have stated this is probably the case but it was an example of Adobe coming out with a product that couldn't be used in an effort to get Apple to either ok it or cause them a bad rep. These two companies are supposed to have pretty high level talks about such things as they are tied pretty close together. Still, that hasn't stopped Adobe from pulling surprises on Apple or vice versus.

  • by StripedCow (776465) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:47PM (#32078654)

    While they are at it, I hope that they define new rules for general purpose computers to be programmable without restrictions. This would be much better for the market (think of unification of standards; also look at how much open-source has benefited us all). Further, it would also be environmentally beneficial, since we wouldn't be forced into buying several (artificially restricted) devices where one would suffice.

  • Re:You know... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by painandgreed (692585) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:49PM (#32078684)

    There's also very little crime in a facist country run with an iron fist, and there is (in theory) no inequality within communisim...that doesn't make it a good idea.

    It may be a little fascist country run with an iron fist, but you can always just pack up and walk across the border whenever you want. You can commute back and forth every day even. In fact, you can stand on the border and do one action on one side and not on the other and they're ok with that.

  • If apple loses (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:50PM (#32078702) Homepage Journal

    You can kiss stability and reliability good bye.

    Besides, its their device, don't like it develop for another phone. No one is *forcing* you to support apple.. Once they are the ONLY game in town, we can have this discussion again.

  • Its about time! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:52PM (#32078728)

    They should also look into why Apple refuses to allow people to isntall OSX on their "non Apple PCs"

    Same damn hardware but you cant run OSX unless you buy your PC hardware from Apple.

    Microsoft on the other hand, sells an OS that runs on the very same PC hardware that makes up the MAC.... except they dont restrict its usage to only "Microsoft sold PCs"

    I dont know how Apple got away with that for years.

    Also add:

    iTunes, Ipods and Iphones that dont support open formats.

  • by janwedekind (778872) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:57PM (#32078810) Homepage

    No third party APIs are allowed. I.e. the terms and conditions are against distribution of wrappers for scripting languages like Ruby or Python. At this point Adobe is probably the last big company still willing to accept the risks associated with contributing to Apple software.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:58PM (#32078832)

    The entire point of this inquiry is that when you develop an app for the XYZ you have to almost completely re-write it for every other platform

    Why would the government care _now_?

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:07PM (#32078958) Homepage Journal

    Aren't they also pretty restrictive too? Or do they just get a free pass around here?

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:15PM (#32079074)

    So, how are you going to target J2ME phones with this magical "C/C++" language?

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SETIGuy (33768) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:27PM (#32079248) Homepage
    On any other system you could use a layer that provides a standardized API. (Think WXwidgets providing a standardized windowing API that works on multiple platforms). One of the anti-competitive measures Apple is attempting is to prevent the development of such a layer for the smartphone market. Or the use of an existing one, for that matter. The point is to lock developers into an iPhone only mode.
  • Re:[sigh] (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tyrione (134248) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:50PM (#32079528) Homepage

    Actually, it is plainly obvious from Mr. Jobs' comments that the point of the restriction is to prevent cross-platform applications. Apple wants iPhone apps to be designed for the iPhone, not ported from another platform.

    -dZ.

    Try this one on for size: You write MS Office on Windows using their GUI interfaces. Apple wants MS Office written on OS X to use their GUI interfaces and other communication APIs that are unique to their platform. The same for Windows. It would be incumbent upon the developer to make their architecture modular and reuse as much of their low level C/C++ code available to both platforms and just fork their code base in the areas of Platform dependent APIs.

  • by zuperduperman (1206922) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:03PM (#32079676)

    > All Apple needs to do to avoid this is publish performance and stability guidelines that can only be met by Objective-C or C++ code

    Exactly - and it's very notable that they did not do this. They could also easily have written that all applications must support touch interfaces into their agreement. But they didn't. Because they know that in 5 minutes time Adobe would produce a version of Flash that complied with just about anything they wrote in their agreement. So they just had to out and out ban it based on "how" you made it rather than "what" you made. This is one of the telling points that gives lie to their motives.

  • Re:Its about time! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by painandgreed (692585) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:08PM (#32079734)

    They should also look into why Apple refuses to allow people to isntall OSX on their "non Apple PCs"

    Same damn hardware but you cant run OSX unless you buy your PC hardware from Apple.

    Microsoft on the other hand, sells an OS that runs on the very same PC hardware that makes up the MAC.... except they dont restrict its usage to only "Microsoft sold PCs"

    I dont know how Apple got away with that for years.

    Sigh. Apple makes hardware and MS doesn't. Apple doesn't support installs on other people's hardware because they haven't tested it with everything and really don't care to. MS gets away with it because as they don't make any computers, the installed OS and it's support belong to the OEM. MS only supports shrink wrapped box OS that everybody complains about the price. As somebody that had some friends that did MS support, they will kill the call quicker than anybody if it can be pegged to a hardware issue. Likewise, if you install MacOS on a Dell, Dell isn't going to support it any more than Apple is. You probably can't even begin to install Dell's OEM copy of Windows on anything. I've tried and they almost are always tied to the exact model of Dell they were sold with.

  • by shagie (1803508) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:18PM (#32079814)
    Apple would start going and imposing more specific restrictions on apps. For example, if your app size is too large (monotouch hello world is 5mb while objective c is 50 kb [stackoverflow.com]) it gets rejected. If the app memory foot print is too large it gets rejected (garbage collection is automated in flash). If the app doesn't play nicely with multitasking in 4.0, it gets rejected. If the app doesn't run under hypothetical future architecture it gets rejected. Etc..

    Any of these technical requirements would reject apps written under other frameworks without saying "must be written in C / C++ or Objective C".

    Even if Adobe wasn't giving up on the flash to iDevice, consider how far behind they will fall when firmware 4.0 is released. How long would it take Adobe to release an update that handles background services, voip and other new features?

    This really is the crux of Apple's restriction. If Adobe (or any other iDevice packager other than Xcode) became the dominant platform, it would be up to that company to add in new features that the previous firmware released. Apple has been burned by Adobe before and doesn't want to be beholden to anyone to have support for their firmware now. This is also likely why HP bought Palm - so that HP wouldn't have to wait for Microsoft or Google to do something new and game changing.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dahamma (304068) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:03PM (#32080194)

    You guys are both confusing the hardware vs runtime here...

    XNA only runs on Microsoft OSes/platforms. Yes, the XBox 360 is a Microsoft platform.

    The XBox 360 does NOT require all apps be written with XNA - it's just one API/runtime that developers can use. Developers are still free to use their own platform abstractions, and write in C or C++ instead of (XNA's) C#. You don't really think EA ports all of it's games directly to the Xbox APIs without using an abstraction layer (which is what the Apple SDK license now requires), do you?

  • Re:Its about time! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:27PM (#32080404)

    Apple does not make hardware. They used to. Now they simply sell intel cpu's in run of the mill chinese/taiwan boards... with a custom bios.

    They have Nvidia/Ati cards etc

    They are as PC as any other hardware sold as PC hardware.

    The difference is, you can run Windows on Macs, but not OSX on non Apple PCs.

    Why?

    Because Apple says so.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KingKaneOfNod (583208) on Monday May 03, 2010 @10:39PM (#32080860)

    Well, there is some prior case history on this. Back in the late 90's, MS was found guilty of exploiting a monopoly with Windows with regards to Netscape and Internet Explorer

    Actually this is more like Atari vs. Activision; as I recall, Activision were producing games for the Atari 2600 which Atari did not like and sued them. The main difference here is that Apple is using DRM to ensure that nobody else can create and distribute software for their system, at least not without going through them.

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Monday May 03, 2010 @10:52PM (#32080940)
    Did you really just say "stability guidelines that can only be met by.. C++ code"

    ????

    Please leave the programming talk to programmers.
  • Re:[sigh] (Score:3, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:09PM (#32081030)

    Actually, it is plainly obvious from Mr. Jobs' comments that the point of the restriction is to prevent cross-platform applications. Apple wants iPhone apps to be designed for the iPhone, not ported from another platform.

          -dZ.

    Not quite right. He wants apps that fully support the iPhone OS. That ends up meaning they aren't cross-platform (not with the exact same codebase), but in spite of what so many people here seem to think, that's not the primary goal. The primary goal is to be able to advance their own platform without reliance on, or hinderance from, third party dev tools.

    They want all iPhone apps to be written in Objective-C for Cocoa (or a subset thereof, which includes C and C++). This means that as Apple improves Objective-C and Cocoa, all iPhone programmers will have access to those advances. If programmers are instead using something like Flash, then when Apple improves their system, those programmers who use Flash will not have access to those improvements unless and until Adobe makes them available, and some Cocoa-specific APIs (as well as platform-specific APIs for other target platforms) will not be available.

    Apple was in this boat before, and they don't intend to make the same mistake again.

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:11PM (#32081048)

    I know a bunch of people are going to say I'm some kind of fanboy or something, but: there are reasons to believe this restriction is not entirely business-driven. That is, there's reason to believe there's some technical reasoning behind it.

    If only your wall of text justified your opening statements.

    There is no reason to believe that there is a technical reason behind it. Either the application works, or it doesn't. Thats supposed to be the end of the discussion on the technical aspect of this, but I'll go one further.

    Apple is preventing applications written in arbitrary languages from being translated to C++. If there was merit to "technical reasoning" then surely the translated code would be acceptable to Apple, because after all, its C++ and thats acceptable. THis also is supposed to be the end of the discussion on the technical aspect of this.

    No sir, you wall of text does not support your assertations. You are suggesting technical reasons, but are not describing any. Most of your wall of text is a "me too" appeal, where if Microsoft does it then its magically also OK for Apple to do it. You are wrong on several counts with that one, because A) Microsoft isnt doing it, and B) even if they were, that doesnt mean it would be OK for Apple.

  • by Buelldozer (713671) <cliff.gindulis@net> on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:11PM (#32081056)

    All of that sounds to me like "Internet Explorer is built too deeply into the operating system to be removed. It cannot be replaced because too many critical systems services rely on it."

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:18PM (#32081102)

    How long would it take Adobe to release an update that handles background services, voip and other new features?

    Why does it matter how long? Hell, I contend that they dont ever have release an update.

    How long until the iFart App I have in the App store magically updates itself to support background services, voip, and other new features? Thats right, it wont, yet its still going to work.

    You are imagining that using C++ somehow makes programs upgradable-via-magic.

  • Re:Likely Outcomes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darth (29071) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:20PM (#32081112) Homepage

    i like how all three of your outcomes presumes Apple's guilt.

    How about 4. They look into it, but determine there's no basis for legal action.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:2, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:21PM (#32081130)

    No, Apple requires the program to be originally written in the approved languages. This is done deliberately to prevent code being written for multiple languages and provide a disincentive for releasing an application for the Iphone and one of its competitors. Especially since most of their big competitors use Java.

    This is to prevent using code translators, which goes back to the primary reason for this whole issue, which is that Apple doesn't want third parties standing between the developers and iPhone OS.

    This is not directly to prevent cross-platform apps, it's for them to be able to keep control over the evolution of their system and not having to check in with third party tools for every improvement made to iPhone OS.

    If Apple has acted in good faith, then they have nothing to fear about an Anti-Trust investigation.

    Half-agreed. Apple has nothing to fear so long as the investigation is done impartially and in earnest (which I believe to be the case). Apple has been fairly straightforward with their intentions. Their intentions are not to harm Adobe or prevent cross-platform apps. Their intention is to maintain control over their own system, which should not trigger any anti-trust litigation, although an investigation is completely understandable.

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:3, Insightful)

    by darrellm (727390) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:25PM (#32081164)

    While I don't necessarily agree with Apple's iPhone policies, I don't see anything anticompetitive with regards to this particular policy (you must develop only in C, C++, or objC).

    Please have the guts to say whether you agree or disagree with their policy instead of the constant waffling and weasel words displayed by most of the Apple and Jobs fans here.

    This policy disallowing cross-compilers is clearly aimed at one company - Adobe. I have been around computers for a long time and I've never seen such a ridiculous restriction - ever. It is very odd and is clearly and carefully worded in such a way to crush the Adobe Packager, but in such a way that they hope can avoid legal ramifications.

    There is absolutely no technical reason for it - even to accomplish Apple's stated goals of having a consistent user experience. A cross compiler can generate native Apple code using documented API's. It still has to meet Apple's approval to get into the App Store which still allows them reject it if it didn't meet their other criteria.

    It is clearly anti-competitive - whether it is illegally so would hopefully be explored in an investigation - although I'm not holding my breath.

    But it is definitely wrong and I would hope even Apple and Jobs fans would have the courage to at least complain to Apple that attempting to crush their competitors will not be tolerated by their developer community (and I'm definitely not holding my breath for that).

  • Re:[sigh] (Score:3, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:26PM (#32081174)

    It's funny, when its in their favor, Apple fanboys here talk about the iPhone outselling every other phone (though it's not)...

    No, people say it's the most popular, most in demand, best, etc. Not one person has said the iPhone outsells all other smart phones. It's just biased people like you who read it that way.

    they talk about it being so amazingly popular in the market, and of the huge demand...

    Exactly.

    When it's not, they say "Look around, we're just a little fish in a big pond!"...

    No one has ever said that, either. Do you see the world solely in binary? Apple is a big fish in a huge pond. In fact, they are the biggest fish in this pond. Name one handset maker that's larger than Apple. That doesn't put them in monopoly status.

    The problem is you seem to have a hard time seeing things as degrees, instead of as absolutes.

  • by mr_death (106532) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @12:57AM (#32081748)

    If you develop for xbox, you must use the Microsoft tool chain; if you develop for the playstation 3, you must use the Sony tool chain.

    There's nothing new here, save a bit of Apple-hater rambling, and government cluelessness.

  • Re:Comparable? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by coolgeek (140561) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @01:16AM (#32081850) Homepage

    Really? When did they release Flash for the Blackberry? PowerPC-based Linux distros? Solaris? WinNT/MIPS (okay, that's a joke).

  • Re:Its about time! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gaspyy (514539) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @01:21AM (#32081864)

    There's one thing to say "this is unsupported, run at your own risk" and something else entirely to actively deny any such installation. Many people use modified versions of OSX on a variety of configurations and even on VmWare.

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