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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) *
    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. Apparen
    • PhoneGap. Now it won't work for every type of app, but it does work for 90% of the applications we do, which are just HTML/JS which is then placed inside either an Obj-C Wrapper or Android Wrapper, or WebOS wrapper, or Blackberry Wrapper, etc.. Still in Javascript and the application is still portable, but we do fine we have to make tweaks between the iPhone and Android usually. Not's not quite a write once, run everywhere type solution, but does work well when using a library like jQtouch.

    • Re:[sigh] (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:36PM (#32076708)

      Most (not all) antitrust legislation is aimed at preventing monopoly exploitation of alternate markets.

      This falls into the "not all" category though, I think, since it's an investigation of whether Apple's engaged in anticompetitive tying. The iPhone / Apple devtools tying is somewhat reminiscent of the car-makers / car-parts antitrust investigations, which happened even though no carmaker actually held a monopoly in the car market.

      I think it'd be a problem for Apple if it were possible to show (e.g. by discovering an unwise internal memo) that the main purpose of the restrictions is to restrain trade, e.g. to harm the market for competitor development tools, or to make it harder to port apps to/from Android. Apple would want to be able to show that the tying was done for legitimate reasons not related to restraining trade.

      • Re:[sigh] (Score:5, Informative)

        by dzfoo (772245) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:42PM (#32076780)

        Apple does not require developers to use Apple tools, only the approved languages, which were not invented and neither are owned by Apple: Objective C, C, and C++. XCode is the IDE provided by Apple, and it uses GCC to compile the code.

        You are free to use whatever you want, as long as the code is originally written in one of those languages and not ported from a different platform.

                -dZ.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by FlyingBishop (1293238)

          False.
          From the infamous section 3.3.1:

          Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited.

          You cannot code in Objective C, C, or C++ unless you are using Apple's proprietary APIs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Altus (1034)

          I don't believe there are any restrictions on porting an application, you just cant use something to compile and app from one language (say, flash) to Obj-C and then submit it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dzfoo (772245)

            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: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by tyrione (134248)

              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.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by node 3 (115640)

              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 Object

        • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)

          Apple does not require developers to use Apple tools, only the approved languages, which were not invented and neither are owned by Apple

          A minor quibble, but Apple actually does own the Objective-C trademark (NeXT bought it from Stepstone and Apple inherited it), so Apple gets to define the Objective-C language.

        • 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.

      • by zoloto (586738)
        Well, a lot of aftermarket stuff isn't supported by the original manufacturer either. I doubt you could get support from Ford after putting a Dodge engine in their chassis.
    • Re:[sigh] (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:38PM (#32076738)

      I think Apple is in trouble because they decided to change their developer agreement *days* before the public unveiling of Adobe CS5. Adobe had been promoting for many months before that the new version of Flash would support export to iPhone. And Apple pulled the rug out from under them days before the release of their product. What happens if a subpoena finds an email between Apple employees suggesting the optimal time to change the licensing terms to damage Adobe (who put a lot of time and money into this feature)? IANAL

      • Re:[sigh] (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:47PM (#32076858) Homepage

        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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by tyrione (134248)

          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.

          You're clearly never been a developer for an OEM or an OS corporation. They have legal contracts disclosing directions long in advance of their marketing campaigns.

    • 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 dskzero (960168)
        Very well said. There is a lot of debate on this one due to the iPhone being a very unique platform, but it's still just another platform.
      • by WilyCoder (736280)

        And how do you suppose you can run an XNA game on anything but Microsoft's OS?

      • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by darrellm (727390)

          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 ramific

      • 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

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ceoyoyo (59147)

        "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 m

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hhedeshian (1343143)

      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.

      One thing people tend to forget here on the dot is that Apple doesn't sell "computers" as we define it. They sell a style or rather a UI. It's like going to Casa Bonita [westword.com]; you go there for the scenery not the food.

      As much as I hate Apple, it's their right to do what they want with the device. Especially considering that you have a choice of phones to choose from. Yes, Verizon+Droid is indeed a choice. Forgetting the touch UI issues with flash, it's just too slow and Apple wants their device to be as polish

      • by vux984 (928602)

        They sell a style or rather a UI. It's like going to Casa Bonita; you go there for the scenery not the food.

        No its different because I don't own Casa Bonita. I do own my phone.

        I'll put it in Star Trek terms: If you built your house to look like the bridge of Voyager, you'd be pissed if your [insert related person here] up and installed an ugly looking "crystal" SG-Atlantis control panel.

        But if I sold my house to [insert related person here] then its THEIR house. They can do what they want to it, no matter

    • 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: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...

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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 creimer (824291)
      For a company whose users have been stereotyped as hipsters, they really love to retain control over EVERYTHING they sell.

      And everything works reasonably well. Took me six months to switch away from Windows and I haven't looked back in the last five years. Apple must be doing something right.
      • by Pojut (1027544)

        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.

        • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:53PM (#32076956)

          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.

          But the trains run on time. And let's face it, the Nazis had the cooolest uniforms. If they'd worn black turtlenecks we'd be calling it "The Insanely Great Third Reich"......

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by painandgreed (692585)

          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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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 ...

  • IANAL, so, someone please tell me-- Don't you have to have at least a majority in the product to have an anti-trust law suit win against you?!

    • by Cyberax (705495)

      Apple has it. They have a legal monopoly on the market of mobile apps.

      • Apple has it. They have a legal monopoly on the market of mobile apps.

        They do? When did the Android Market close down?

    • Depends on the kind of antitrust suit. Certainly you can't be guilty of monopoly leveraging unless you have a monopoly, so you're right as far as that goes. =] And it's also true that that's generally the easiest kind of antitrust claim to prove (it's what Microsoft was accused of), because there's a very strong presumption that if: 1. you're a monopoly; and 2. you're leveraging it; then that's bad, regardless of what "legitimate reasons" you have for doing so. (It used to even be considered always illegal to leverage a monopoly, but recent Supreme Court decisions have chipped away at that.)

      There are other kinds of anticompetitive trade practices, though, with lower threshholds. At the one end of the scale is being a monopoly, where your conduct is closely scrutinized; at the other end is being a tiny player, whose market power is so small that any claim you were engaged in anticompetitive behavior is implausible. But in between there's a whole area of restraint-of-trade and anticompetitive tying, where you can be guilty of an antitrust violation without being a monopoly, if you have sufficient market power to influence another market improperly, and you did in fact do so. For example, some car manufacturers lost antitrust cases relating to car parts, despite not having a monopoly on automobiles: courts found that e.g. Mercedes banning anyone from making Mercedes-compatible parts was anticompetitive tying between the car market and the replacement-parts market, even though Mercedes isn't a car monopoly.

      Those kinds of cases often come down to what the intent of the tying was. Mercedes argued that they wanted to control the replacement-parts market not for anticompetitive reasons, but for quality-assurance reasons; the courts ended up not buying that. But often courts do buy arguments that there was a legitimate reason for tying (possibly even most of the time; non-monopoly tying prosecutions succeeding isn't that common). In Apple's case, they would presumably argue that the purpose of requiring XCode and certain languages isn't mainly to restrain trade in dev-tools markets or to make it harder to port apps, but because of reasons related to its app-review process ("it's easier to review apps if they're all in Obj-C on XCode" or something). I could see a court giving reasonable deference to that, though predictions are always dodgy. The main place I could see that failing is if there's some smoking-gun email that ends up as evidence, where a VP or someone says, "hey we should institute this new requirement because of [reasons that sound like restraint of trade]".

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

          by vux984 (928602)

          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.

        • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rockoon (1252108)
          Did you really just say "stability guidelines that can only be met by.. C++ code"

          ????

          Please leave the programming talk to programmers.
  • by crumbz (41803)

    The only claim I see the Feds have for antitrust is for Apple "tying" disparate products, hardware and apps, similar to the issue in U.S. v. Microsoft (o.s. and browser). However, given Apple has only about 25% of the market share in the smart phone arena, I do not see the basis for the Feds action. The development platform only lock for Apple products strikes me as failing to meet the antitrust standard.

    • It is possible - just a possibility, you'll note - that you have somewhat less expertise in antitrust law than the antitrust prosecutors do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by natehoy (1608657)

      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

  • 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?
    • and before anyone gets pedantic, yes, I know that you don't actually have to use x-code, but x-code is free with OS X and not that bad, so I assume that most c programming for iPhone would probably be done in x-code. I could be wrong.
    • by obarel (670863)
      I can see how it stops competition. After all, never in the history of computing was there a platform where developers couldn't use the tools of their choice. You need a license from Sony to publish a game, but if I want to hand-code the game in machine code, there's nothing stopping me. If I like assembly language and I write my own assember - so be it. If I have an Ocaml cross compiler - fine. As long as it does the job and reaches the quality measures of the platform. This is the first platform where I'm
    • Why do they say to use Xcode for iPhone development? They say it is "to improve the experience". It may. But there are other tools out there quite capable of generating iPhone-compatible code. This just ever-so-handily happens to mean that for the most part, if you want your application to run on multiple platforms, well, shit, you have to write an iPhone version, AND another, because well, Jobs feels that although it is absolutely possible, it wouldn't be the same "experience", because it might take other
    • 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.

  • But many OHA members are developing proprietary user experiences, which they are not contributing back into to Android—as is standard for open source projects—for fear of losing competitive advantage in the marketplace.

    Your choice:

    Apple's Brave New World where proprietary is done right and trains run on time vs. everyone else's scattered proprietary banana republics where trains barely run at all and each has a different gauge of track.

    I'll take walled garden built in Cupertino that keeps out th

  • by rrohbeck (944847) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:46PM (#32076854)

    After all, it's how the RDF makes fanbois out of everybody who comes too close to His Jobsness.
    Who is going to investigate that?

  • 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.
    • by StikyPad (445176)

      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.

      Well, yeah... It's not that they *suddenly* found a way to do it; it's that it wasn't economical. But the economics change when there are significant penalties involved with inaction. You can hire a lot of very skilled programmers for far less than $500k/day.

  • Imagine only executables signed by MS's toolchain were executable on Win 8.

    Or only binaries signed with Linus's or RMS's private key on 2.6.33 :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jo_ham (604554)

      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.

  • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Monday May 03, 2010 @04:52PM (#32076938)

    Inquiry != prosecution.

    The point of an inquiry is to determine whether there is a basis for an anti-trust case or not.

    There isn't some pre-inquiry inquiry to decide if the company has enough market share or has behaved in ways that violate anti-trust laws, so there's no point in crying about how Apple doesn't meet the criteria for an anti-trust case.

  • Look at the mac os x hardware lock in as well!

    also the ATT I-phone lock in as well.

    I think apple should at least make it free to put free apps in the app store with no $99 /year fee.

    Also the apple app store censorship needs to go away as well.

  • by jDeepbeep (913892) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:01PM (#32077068)
    Let's not be too drastic with these inquiries. Apple might get mad and move all its manufacturing jobs to China or something.
  • by DdJ (10790) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:45PM (#32077746) Homepage Journal

    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.

    Now, I do believe there are business reasons too. The technical reasons wouldn't be enough to forbid all environments other than Xcode+Objective C. I could see something like MonoTouch being able to meet the actual technical requirements trivially.

    But do you know how MonoTouch actually works? The result would not be portable. It would be just as tied to the iPhone as an Xcode/ObjC app, it would simply be using another language.

    Apps on the iPhone need a particular application architecture if they're going to perform well. This is true now, but is going to be even more true in the future, when the OS tries to do more complicated things with each app than simply "jump to it when the app starts, and shut it down completely when the app ends".

    The same is true on Android by the way. If you want to use Android's frameworks, you have to access it from within their custom JVM. Yes, you can program in C, but your C can't call their frameworks. You write your C using JNI to make your C routines available to the Java code, and some minimum "stub" Java code has to glue your code to all the Android frameworks. And if you want your code to continue running in the background, you have to fork off a "Service" that is essentially the Android version of a daemon.

    The same looks to be true of WP7. It looks like you code your UI up as a silverlight or XNA app, and you flow data into it via ActiveSync (I am not clear on all of the details). Each of these platforms requires a completely fundamentally different architecture to write to. You're not going to get true portability across them easily, not and get a decent experience with the app.

    So anyway, on the iPhone OS, you need to have your UI broken up into a set of XIB/NIB files, and each "view" needs to have a "view controller" object -- and by "object" I mean something that the on-device Objective-C runtime sees as an Objective-C object. Has to have the semantics of an Objective-C object, and has to support the introspection methods of an Objective-C object (just as Android objects have the semantics of Java objects). If all that is in place, then the OS can (in theory) do stuff like unload UI assets and UI-related objects from the running process, and notice before they're needed (via Obj-C introspection and method interception and stuff), and load them back in before they're missed.

    So if you're using MonoTouch, which is basically (from what I read) little more than a way to do Objective-C programming using C# syntax, you could be fine. Your UI assets would still be in those separate XIB/NIB files, your controller objects would be indistinguishable from "raw" Objective-C objects as far as the runtime is concerned, and so on. So stuff like that ought to be permitted. And it won't be portable.

    So, Apple could say something more along the lines of: "Here are the rules. Your UI needs to be implemented as a set of XIB/NIB files in these data formats that the OS can inspect in these ways, and that the OS turns into a view hierarchy for your app upon loading. You need to specify connections between those view hierarchies and a bunch of things that behave as if they were plain Objective-C objects with regard to the following (very long) list of introspection mechanisms. References between objects in your code have to permit these sorts of relocation and this sort of serialization. And your callback methods need to behave such-and-such way, and any time we change the ABI for the closure functionality we added as an extension to the C-family languages, you must be able to conform to the possibly-extensive ABI change within less than a week of being informed of it. And and and...".

    You end up with a very very long li

    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DdJ (10790)

        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...

        Good heavens, why do you believe that? "It works or it doesn't" is not supposed to be the end of the discussion. Where did that idea come from? If you think that, you don't understand Apple.

        "It works" is important. But having every app able to switch to full multitasking support by doing little more than ty

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Buelldozer (713671)

      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 Wovel (964431) on Monday May 03, 2010 @05:46PM (#32077766) Homepage

    Everyone realizes that this announcements indicated that two government agencies are in the midst of negotiating to decide which one of them might launch an investigation.

    Most of us will likely have died of old age before the investigation even starts. Why do real work when you can justify your existence by simply sitting around the office and bickering with the guys down the street.

    It took 10 years to resolve the Microsoft case and their market dominance was clear and certain. 3 Years to come to agreement. Another 4 years for the DOJ to sure Microsoft for completely ignoring the agreement. Three more years to resolve the lawsuit.

    Since it is unlikely these two departments will resolve their internal squabble any time soon. By the time they do one of them will be out for blood. Unfortunately there will be little to find.

  • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darth (29071)

      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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by painandgreed (692585)

      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 becaus

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gaspyy (514539)

        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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mr_matticus (928346)

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

      They already did. It was decided in court. Did you miss the whole Psystar battle? All the armchair lawyers predicted vindication of their half-assed theories and claims...while everyone else waited with a bemused expression for the inevitable: Apple's sales model and license being upheld in court.

      Both an antitrust inquiry and a lawsuit end up in the same place if they're not dismissed: federal court. But as has been said (and largely ignored) an inquiry doesn't mean that there has been an antitrust/com

  • 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?

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid

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