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Apple Facing New Antitrust Investigation 241

Posted by timothy
from the depends-who-you-trust-in-the-first-place dept.
mantis2009 writes "After recent complaints of anti-competitive behavior, the US Department of Justice has opened an inquiry into Apple's business practices for selling music. Investigators have specifically asked whether Apple colluded with record labels to thwart Amazon.com's music download store, according to the ever-present anonymous 'people briefed on the situation.' Allegedly, Apple threatened to retaliate if any music label participated in Amazon's 'MP3 Daily Deal' promotion, which offered early access to some MP3 tracks." So it looks like the Justice Department won the DoJ vs. FTC fight for the regulation bully pulpit.
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Apple Facing New Antitrust Investigation

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  • Maybe (Score:2, Informative)

    by Space cowboy (13680) *
    Today wasn't the best day to become the highest-valued IT company in the world - edging out MSFT [google.com] (219.18B) by having a market cap [google.com] of 222.07B.

    To give an idea of the scale of that achievement, Apple's share price has climbed about 560% in the past five years. Microsoft's is up 4%. Sure, market cap isn't a hugely useful measure (beyond bragging rights) of the value a company brings, but the trend is an interesting one, at least for Apple shareholders

    Simon.

    • As a consumer, and owner of several Apple products, I find their behavior to be far monopolistic than Microsoft's ever was. (Want to run Apple software? Buy Apple hardware. Want Apple hardware? It will always be loaded with Apple software. Want to load something on your iP*? Use ITMS, etc...) Do I think Apple really is a monopoly? No. But I never thought Microsoft was a monopoly, either.

      Apple fans should hope Apple has better attorneys than Microsoft had when dealing with the DoJ. If Apple doesn't play ball

      • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:36PM (#32353730)

        it will become a hamstrung corporate slushy, just like Microsoft did.

        All the DOJ did was say "yep MS, you are a monopoly", the damage was already done. Microsoft managed to squash Netscape, BeOS, and all of their established competitors from the '90s.

        Other than making MS more subtle in their EEE tactics, the ruling didn't do too much. Microsoft managed to come out on top with the DOJ hearings, yeah they got a stern talking to and some bad PR, but look at post-hearing MS, it was doing remarkably well and not losing marketshare till the disaster of Vista.

        Apple has a lot more to fear than MS did. Apple doesn't supply the OS for most of the government's computers, MS does.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by evilbessie (873633)
          Err, why not get the Europeans to sort out this mess? They actually manage to do something* about Microsoft... *It could have been better, I grant you but they have effectively forced their hand on opening up protocols and standards. There is however more time which needs to pass, not quite sure how much though.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by AmigaMMC (1103025)
            It will get to that, for example: According to European law, people have the right to remove the batteries off a device and buy 3rd party... something Apple is not kin to do as they make way too much money in battery and replacement service.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by ColdWetDog (752185)
              So, replace the battery. There are literally hundreds of third party solutions to the 'sealed' battery in your iWhatever. Instead of screwdriver, you need a plastic spud. Not exactly the end of the world.
              • There are literally hundreds of third party solutions to the 'sealed' battery in your iWhatever.

                All of them void the warranty.

        • Re:Maybe (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Strudelkugel (594414) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @09:11PM (#32356276)
          Apple has a lot to fear because you never know what will happen in court, if it gets to that. Judge Jackson considered the drive space used by IE DLLs an example of monopolistic behavior, because consumers were deprived of the use of that space, no matter how minuscule it was. He had a number of other reasons that were quite questionable, too. Didn't matter though.

          A good prosecutor could have a field day with Apple's marketing tactics in music, books, hardware and software sales. Probably the app store, too. No doubt they are smart enough to settle, but who knows what DoJ might demand. If they decide to go to court, anything can happen.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As a consumer, and owner of several Apple products, I find their behavior to be far monopolistic than Microsoft's ever was. (Want to run Apple software? Buy Apple hardware. Want Apple hardware? It will always be loaded with Apple software. Want to load something on your iP*? Use ITMS, etc...)

        The word you're looking for is 'proprietary' not 'monopoly'. You'll notice in the FS that it's about putting a competitor out of business as opposed to keeping people on their platform, which is what you just described.

      • Re:Maybe (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:54PM (#32354638) Journal

        Uhhh...You DO know that Apple owns over 90% [wikipedia.org] of the HDD based PMPs and more than 70% of ALL PMPs, yes? And since we are talking about music I'd find it hard for anyone to say that Apple was anything BUT a monopoly in that field.

        I don't see how their lock in with iTMS and using that lock in to hamstring competitors is ANY different than MSFT using Windows to kill Netscape. So I'm sorry Apple fanboys if old Steve is using iTMS to screw over competitors they need to be busted. How is this any different from MSFT or Intel screwing those that refuse to play ball? MSFT said "Want good prices on windows? Screw BeOS and anybody else that wants to sell a desktop" while Intel said "Want a good deal on chips? Screw AMD and take this Netburst and like it" while Apple is saying "Want to be on iTMS? Screw Amazon". I don't see ANY difference in the tactics.

        Just because old Steve has good taste doesn't mean he can screw his competitors with monopolistic behavior, hence the investigation. If the allegations are true it seems pretty open and shut to me. And before any fanboys scream "MSFT shill!" I would point out that to this day I STILL think MSFT should have been broken up. Too much power concentrated into a single company is never good for the market.

      • I don't have a problem with Apple requiring their hardware in order to run their software (there are so many other competing companies who don't, so there's no lock-in), or their software to run their iPads, iPhones, etc. (again, this describes any company who produces hardware that interfaces with another system; they're called drivers). Any computer you buy is loaded with software put on there by the vendor, so again, not an issue; at least the stuff Apple gives you has a good reputation and isn't cripple

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Runaway1956 (1322357)

        "As a consumer, and owner of several Apple products,"

        I see a hint of hypocrisy here. You complain that they are to powerful, but you support them with your hard earned cash money. If they are bad, why do you give them money?

        BTW - I've taught my kid properly. He bought a USED iPod, and immediately jailbroke the damned thing. He uses it as he wishes. He sent no money to Apple, and he got exactly what he wanted, and uses it in exactly the way he wishes. At this point in time, I believe he is aiming at an

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Reminds of Forest Gump when Forest says he invested in a "fruit" company that turns out to be Apple. If people invested their money into Apple right after that movie came out, they'd be living like Gump themselves right now.
      • Yeah, and had the scare of their lives in the mid to late '90s when Apple was failing.

        From the launch of Windows 95 till the success of the iPod and OS X in 2003, Apple was a joke. No one would have been advised to invest in it.

        Yeah, the iPod and OS X and switching to x86 and iTunes have made Apple fashionable again, but for a while in the mid '90s, Apple was worthless. It lacked a decent OS, Windows was gaining, etc.
      • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:10PM (#32354134)

        Reminds of Forest Gump when Forest says he invested in a "fruit" company that turns out to be Apple. If people invested their money into Apple right after that movie came out, they'd be living like Gump themselves right now.

        It's just mind-blowing what you could do if you had 20 years of hindsight 20 years ago.

    • Re:Maybe (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pushing-robot (1037830) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:35PM (#32353712)

      Today wasn't the best day to become the highest-valued IT company in the world - edging out MSFT [google.com] (219.18B) by having a market cap [google.com] of 222.07B.

      That also gives Apple the second largest market cap period, behind only Exxon Mobil (278.64B). Rather incredible, since Apple only nudged into the top five last quarter and the top ten the quarter before that.

    • Funny that, because their share price wasn't doing so well when Microsoft pumped money into Apple to keep them solvent just a few years ago.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Space cowboy (13680) *
        [sigh] Microsoft bought $150M worth of non-voting shares. Which they've since sold (at a handsome profit, although if they'd waited they'd have made more money). Apple had billions in the bank at the time, so it's hardly "keep them solvent".

        The reason wasn't altruism, either. Microsoft did it to settle a court-case (along with granting Apple access to a broad base of MS patents) because they were about to be taken to the cleaners by Apple. MS also had to promise to keep developing MS Office for 5 years.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lars T. (470328)

        Funny that, because their share price wasn't doing so well when Microsoft pumped money into Apple to keep them solvent just a few years ago.

        Yeah, $150 Million, when Apple only had $1.2 in cash. What a float. http://news.cnet.com/2100-1001-202143.html [cnet.com]

  • Bully? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Since when is stopping companies from breaking the law bullying?

    • Re:Bully? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:14PM (#32353388) Journal

      Since the country was run by corporations.

    • by bsDaemon (87307)

      It's not, its more like when the kid who finally stands up to the bully and punches him in the face gets called to the principal's office for fighting in school.

    • by Vahokif (1292866)
      Since they went after Apple.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by steelfood (895457)

      Engaging in anti-competitive practices is completely justified by the improvements in shininess of the next toy such a practice would bring if Apple's doing it.

    • Bully Pulpit (Score:3, Interesting)

      It says bully pulpit [wikipedia.org]. Which is something else entirely.
  • by pgmrdlm (1642279) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:14PM (#32353400) Journal

    The Justice Department has also reportedly been investigating the hiring practices at Apple and other top technology companies, including Intel, I.B.M. and Google, asking whether the companies have improperly agreed to avoid hiring each other’s employees.

    I would like to see specifically what this investigation is about. I don't see why companies can't make this type of agreement. It sounds like an agreement to respect each others trade secretes by not hiring each others employees.

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:17PM (#32353464) Journal

      Or a friendly agreement not to snipe each other's talent, but on the other hand, it makes someone at Apple kind of trapped at Apple, since they might not be able to get a job at the other big corporations who would use them.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:28PM (#32353608)
      Because it reduces competition. If I work with software at Apple, I'm essentially barred from entering the job market at other similarly-sized corporations in the same field.

      If I'm unhappy at Apple for some reason I have to stick with them because the other companies won't hire me, not because I'm not qualified but because of my previous employer.

      If this was Burger King don't hiring former McDonalds employees, we wouldn't see the point, but when its software companies its ok?
      • If this was Burger King not hiring former McDonalds employees, we wouldn't see the point, but when its software companies its ok?

        I guess lack of coffee today has made me oblivious to blindingly obvious typos in my posts.

      • by pgmrdlm (1642279)
        If it was the scientists at Micky d's and burger king, the ones that come up with the recipes. I think the same type of agreement would be completely acceptable. Protection of trade secretes, protection of each companies expensive talent. Your argument doesn't stand the test of review. I'm not even sure I believe the argument of not being able to move from company to company is a valid argument. If I have any of those companies on my resume, I can go anywhere looking for a job. And, I might ad. It would
        • But lets face it, Google, Apple, IBM, etc. are all very stable employers. Chances are they will exist in some form in 5 years. Why should I not have the right to move to a stable employer? Yeah, I can go to "anywhere" looking for a job but Google, Apple and IBM all pay very high wages and benefits. Why should I be locked out of the other 2 because I worked for one?
        • by russotto (537200) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:11PM (#32354138) Journal

          Protection of trade secretes, protection of each companies expensive talent.

          Hold on there, pardner. The trade secrets belong to the company, but the talent belongs to the employees.

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          I think the same type of agreement would be completely acceptable.

          You know the best way to keep your employees?

          Pay them what they are worth, and treat them like human beings.

          Apple has a bad habit of doing neither for some employees (most companies do actually), which is why they create these agreements. It saves the corporations money, while completely screwing their employees.

          Why is that OK? Ever? You can have an NDA, and if the employee breaks it after they go to another company (you can work somewhere else and still keep an NDA), you can sue them into bankruptcy. T

      • by dangitman (862676)

        Because it reduces competition. If I work with software at Apple, I'm essentially barred from entering the job market at other similarly-sized corporations in the same field.

        Well, you could always go work for Microsoft...

      • According to the FTA, you won't get hired at Google, IBM, et al., if you currently work at Apple. The reverse is true. This may be illegal, but the companies' motivation is obviously something akin to a gentlemen's agreement not to poach from each other. It's ugly, but it's also still not the same as saying that working at Apple prevents you from quitting and then applying for a job somewhere else.

    • by melted (227442) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:32PM (#32353674) Homepage

      I'm sorry, this is retarded. Agreements like this amount to indentured servitude for the employees. In my experience, moving from one company to another was the surest way to boost my pay. Had I stayed with the same company for a decade, my merit rises would merely beat inflation. I would also be worth a lot less to a prospective employer due to not having a varied background.

      I would like not only these pacts to be outlawed, but non-competes as well. For trade secrets, there's the court of law where trade secret disputes can be adjudicated.

      • by pgmrdlm (1642279)
        How are you locked in? You saying that having these companies on your resume restricts you in your job search? You saying that taking that type of experience to a startup company or other multi national company would not do you any good in your salary negotiations? sorry, don't see it. Your not restricted in any way of finding a job of the same pay or better. You are underestimating who would be interested in your talents and what you can make.
        • Yeah, that's actually exactly what he's saying. Look into non-compete agreements. Then look at the paperwork you signed when you took your job to see if you have one or not. Finally, check and see if the terms end immediately upon leaving your current employer, or 1/2/5/10 years later.
        • by melted (227442)

          There are only a few worthwhile companies which build operating systems, for instance. Tablets, mobile phone OS's, search engines, ads -- these are just a few highly competitive areas with few big players. If those players strike a pact, you'll have to change your career. This is shitty and unfair.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I don't see why companies can't make this type of agreement

      For the same reason Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft cannot sit down and coordinate the prices of consoles, games and accessories: cartels are bad. Therefore the regulation of an oligopoly is considered okay. In a oligopsony, similar affects arise from collusion: the buyers of services gain huge price setting power, because they no longer have to out-bid one another.

    • by dfghjk (711126)

      Because it damages the ability of individuals to find work.

  • As i've been ranting about for a while now... It's time to either let Microsoft run its business in the same manner Apple does... or force Apple to deal with the same nonsense all of you impose on Microsoft.

    When will we end the hypocrisy? Leave Microsoft alone, and go after the real evil... Apple.

    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      When will we end the hypocrisy? Leave Microsoft alone, and go after the real evil... Apple.

      This is the same logic that got us involved in Iraq, when the big problem was in Afghanistan. If Microsoft were left to its own devices, every computer maker would still be paying for a copy of a Windows license, even on computers that didn't have a copy of Windows on it. Like they already did before DOJ got on them. And yes, they would also be spending those billions in cash to sue Linux software makers for "paten

      • No, what you just wrote was the same bullshit nonsense that got us involved in iraq. You did not state any fact. You fear mongered. Congrats... you are your very own argument.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Pharmboy (216950)

          Really? They used to charge manufacturers for every computer they sold whether or not it had windows, this [wikipedia.org] is a fact [wikipedia.org]. They have already said that Linux infringes on their patents, this [cnn.com] is a fact [crn.com]. Assuming they would continue to charge manufacturers or pursue lawsuits on their "intellectual property" if they weren't restrained in some way isn't FUD, it is logical deduction.

          Most people on /. are technical persons, and I wouldn't have to give them these direct links. Most people, including people like myse

    • by Adambomb (118938)

      Why can't I just despise both?

      • See now that is an honest answer. I admire that. I agree.. lets hate them both so that we get what we want out of them... but one day we have to admit "this stuff is pretty good". If it warrants it of course.

        Apple right now is far more controlling than MS has EVER BEEN.

    • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:23PM (#32354312)

      Leave Microsoft alone, and go after the real evil... Apple.

      Seriously, evil? We neuter words when we use them casually in a way they are not intended. We rail against politicians and marketers for bandying about certain words in the wrong situation while people here on Slashdot call Apple evil! You may not like them; you may not like their products; you may not like their policies; you may not like their procedures but, let's be serious, the company is not evil.

      Gawd. "I don't like them" is not the same thing as "evil!"

      I know. I know. I must be new here...

      • by IANAAC (692242)

        We neuter words when we use them casually in a way they are not intended.

        Yes we do.

        But then, many people tout the ipad as "truly magical and revolutionary" too. Oh, and "What the device does is extraordinary. It is the best browsing experience you've ever had. ... It's unbelievably great ... way better than a laptop."

        Words are used casually in ways they really aren't intended all the time. The trick is in seeing past them.

  • by acomj (20611) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:23PM (#32353530) Homepage

    The Music industry is probably still mad that Apple fought their 0.30 $ increase in prices and has the leverage to do so.

    This doesn't seem like a big deal. The barrier to entry in creating an online music store seems pretty low, plus the files are now DRM free and playable on any player. Apple just seems to not want Amazon to get music before it does.

    Not the mention it was a minor miracle that Steve Jobs got the major labels to sell their music online in the first place. I think that head start put itunes music store in the position it is in today.

    • by dangitman (862676) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:21PM (#32354272)

      Not the mention it was a minor miracle that Steve Jobs got the major labels to sell their music online in the first place.

      This is one of the most fascinating things in recent tech/media history to me. I believe the labels' thinking at the time was that this was a test, and experimental roll-out. Because this new-fangled iPod and iTunes was a Mac-only thing at the time, and Macs had a tiny share of the computer market. So, they'd see if it worked. If it failed, no big deal, it's only a few Mac users. But to everybody's surprise, the iPod was insanely successful and Apple made the unprecedented move of releasing iTunes for Windows and adding USB support (early models were Firewire-only).

      Basically, what the labels thought was a minor experiment turned into the future of their industry.

      • But to everybody's surprise, the iPod was insanely successful...

        yes everybody's surprise. To this day I don't understand how the ipod/itunes bonanza occurred, given the prevalence of mp3s and availability of generic portable mp3 players. Every USB stick can double as a portable music library FFS!

        Just goes to show that a "chic" product and clever marketing campaigns will always win out over practicality and common sense.

    • by Draek (916851)

      Yeah, small miracle that a prominent member of the Board of Directors for the world's largest media conglomerate would get media companies to sell their music online through his new service.

      Only marginally less shocking than the news of guys behind Bing getting the MSN portal to use their search service.

      • by dangitman (862676)

        Yeah, small miracle that a prominent member of the Board of Directors for the world's largest media conglomerate would get media companies to sell their music online through his new service.

        How would Jobs being a Disney board member persuade music publishers? That doesn't make any sense, especially as Jobs was not a Disney board member at the time.

        Also, you forget that the music labels were (and still are) deathly afraid of online digital distribution. To them moving beyond physical discs was seen as a huge risk. To even be attempted, it had to be guaranteed to be extremely locked-down and restricted.

      • Steve Jobs was not a Disney boardmember until 2006. Apple started the iTunes Music Store in 2003.

        Nice try.

    • because they cut us out and favored the publishers.

      As for their music policy, I bet the arguments over only a 30 cent spike were not as heated as many suspect, frankly I would not doubt Apple welcomed it.

    • The Music industry is probably still mad that Apple fought their 0.30 $ increase in prices and has the leverage to do so.

      Even at the cheaper price per track, it is still perfectly possible to buy the *LOSSLESS* CD cheaper than the download tracks if you do a little research and shopping around.

      And get one thing clear in your head - if Steve Jobs and his board made this decision for purely altruistic reasons, Apple shareholders would have their butts kicked out the door without a moment's notice. No, it was

  • Cartel (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:24PM (#32353552)

    Heh, investigating Apple for leveraging dominance against the RIAA, A cartel convicted of antitrust abuses several times? How about dealing with them effectively first?

    • They weren't leveraging their dominance against the RIAA, they were leveraging their dominance OF the RIAA against potential competitors.

      Allegedly, Apple threatened to retaliate if any music label participated in Amazon's 'MP3 Daily Deal' promotion, which offered early access to some MP3 tracks.

      • Re:Cartel (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:46PM (#32353822)

        They weren't leveraging their dominance against the RIAA, they were leveraging their dominance OF the RIAA against potential competitors.

        Allegedly, Apple threatened to retaliate if any music label participated in Amazon's 'MP3 Daily Deal' promotion, which offered early access to some MP3 tracks.

        Which is great and all, except Amazon is already being charged differentially less than Apple in music royalties by the RIAA as a way of intentionally decreasing Apple's market share so they have less influence compared to the RIAA. Amazon is a stalking horse as much as a competitor here.

  • What, do the copy editors come from the Weekly World News now? Even fark has better, more accurate headlines.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Um, you have that almost entirely wrong.

      Collusion and other anticompetitive behaviors are exactly what is meant when the "antitrust" investigators get involved.

      Perhaps you'll enlighten us as to how you've misread the title.

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      It's a precursor to an antitrust investigation. The complaint is definitely antitrust. Unless you don't understand what "antitrust" means.

  • Apple also needs to open osx to all pc's as well.

    As it they get bigger then M$ they they may be forced to.

    • Apple also needs to open osx to all pc's as well. As it they get bigger then[sic] M$ they they may be forced to.

      Apple might be forced to separate their desktop OS and desktop computer businesses, but not until they have dominance in one of those markets, we're talking 70% or so as a general guideline. It's unlikely they will ever reach such levels.

    • by dangitman (862676) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:29PM (#32354380)

      Apple also needs to open osx to all pc's as well. As it they get bigger then M$ they they may be forced to.

      That's a very strange logic, because if Apple licensed the Mac OS to generic hardware manufacturers, that would put them at greater risk of becoming an actual monopoly, because it would increase other companies' dependence on Apple.

      If you could easily (and more importantly, officially) run Mac OS on cheap generic hardware, Windows might actually face a significant decline in marketshare, putting Apple in the same position that got Microsoft slapped with anti-trust suits.

      Seems like a strange way to fight a supposed monopolist, by making it more monopoly-like.

      • by T Murphy (1054674)
        A company going from small marketshare to moderate marketshare makes it no more monopoly-like than putting a small rock with another small rock makes them more blackhole-like. Sure, you could claim a scenario where Apple sudddenly has 90%+ of some market segment, but that doesn't seem likely. Making the two OSs compete directly should only help reduce any monopoly effect either company has.
  • Go to hell, DoJ (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @05:53PM (#32353914) Homepage

    Apple used its dominant market position to persuade music labels to refuse to give the online retailer Amazon.com exclusive access to music about to be released.

    If that's all there is to the accusation, then Apple deserve kudos - in this one isolated instance - for forcing wider access to the works. Exclusive is the antithetis of the purpose of copyrights.

    • by Pop69 (700500)
      Exclusive is the antithetis of the purpose of copyrights.

      Actually, exclusive is EXACTLY what copyrights are about, you should look up the definition sometime.
    • Why does it force wider access to the works?

      You can buy MP3 tracks from Amazon and put them on your App£e device, or if your old and boring like me and determined not to be ripped off by paying more for lossy music, just go buy the CD.

  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:05PM (#32354058) Homepage

    Just from a quick google search on itunes music market share:

    According to Wikipedia, as of 2006 Stevie said iTunes had 88% of the market for downloadable music
    According to Cnet, that percentage was 70% in 2009.

    Okay so Apple appears to have market dominance in downloadable music. Confirm monopoly stamp.

    Now, from the article:

    "But people briefed on the inquiries also said investigators had asked in particular about recent allegations that Apple used its dominant market position to persuade music labels to refuse to give the online retailer Amazon.com exclusive access to music about to be released."

    So... Amazon got first and only dibs to specific songs, thus restricting competition, and Apple is using monopoly power to tell music distributors not to do that?

    *brain explodes*

    I'm sure I'm going to sniff some RIAA lobbiest involvement in this once I reassemble my head.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Draek (916851)

      So... Amazon got first and only dibs to specific songs, thus restricting competition, and Apple is using monopoly power to tell music distributors not to do that?

      Yeah. Since Amazon doesn't hold a controlling share of the digital music market, they're free to do that. Apple isn't.

      Kinda how Apple is able to shove their browser and video player down your throat when you install their music player, but Microsoft can't bundle IE with Windows.

      • Yeah. Since Amazon doesn't hold a controlling share of the digital music market, they're free to do that. Apple isn't.

        Apple doesn't have a "controlling share" in the digital music market, they only have about 25%. Amazon has quite a large share itself, both from music downloads and CDs (you know what the D in CD stands for? It doesn't stand for digital, but the music on a CD _is_ digital). But the OP expressed himself badly: It is not Amazon who is restricting competition, it is whoever sells music to Amazon at a price that is so low they can sell music for less than Apple has to pay for it, and still make a profit. And Ap

    • So... Amazon got first and only dibs to specific songs, thus restricting competition, and Apple is using monopoly power to tell music distributors not to do that?

      No. Amazon wanted the ability to have some songs from the music companies one day before everyone else. The music companies agreed. Apple came along and said, "If you do, we won't sell that song at all."

  • by coolgeek (140561) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:20PM (#32354258) Homepage

    It's an inquiry, NOT an investigation. An inquiry may or may not lead to an investigation.

  • Soooo...

    Amazon was trying to work a deal where it got to sell mp3s earlier than Apple? Isn't that anti-competitive too?

    Now Apple is being investigated for being anti-competitive to a competitors anti-competitiveness.

    Isn't that just competition?

    • As they say on Slashdot, "but X is not a monopoly like Y! they play by different rules!". Normally, X=Apple and Y=Microsoft; in this particular case, X=Amazon and Y=Apple.

      Simply put, the claim is that Apple has a monopoly, and therefore their influence on the market is anti-competitive, while Amazon isn't, so they are in the clear. Whether the logic is sound or not, it should be applied consistently.

      Of course, the matter of Apple being a monopoly in the first place is a separate one. But, apparently, they h

  • Riiiiight! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TRRosen (720617) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @06:27PM (#32354360)

    So now its uncompetitive for Apple to complain about other companies trying to gain an unfair advantage. Amazon's program gave Amazon a monopoly since they would be the only ones selling the tracks early. I can only imagine what a sh*t storm Amazon would throw if Borders was able to sell select books a week before them or anyone else. Personally I feel all retail exclusivity agreements should be illegal. Including Cell phones and album/tracks. The only stuff that should be "available only at wal-mart" is bad taste and bad judgment.

    • Read the article more carefully.

      The issue is not about either Amazon or Apple trying vying to sell stuff first but Apple trying to persuade the labels *not* to sell to Amazon - a big difference.

      Please try to stay on topic, thanks.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by eliotw (1790322)
        TRRosen is on topic. Amazon wants to be able to sell content "exclusively" before anyone else can. Apple isn't happy with that and can you blame them. It seems like Apple is saying to the record companies "if you give preference to Amazon over us, then we'll do the same and give preference to other labels over you" That sounds pretty fair to me. If it were Apple asking for the exclusivity then it would be a different story.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pandrijeczko (588093)

          If I go to a supplier and say "I want you to supply me with 100 £5 widgets for £4 each and I want you to supply me with them first", that's competition.

          If I go to a supplier and say "I don't want you to supply Fred Bloggs with £5 widgets for anything less than £4.50 and make sure he gets them late", that's monopolistic.

          Like I said, wipe away the spittle and go back and *READ* the article more carefully, thanks.

C makes it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes that harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg. -- Bjarne Stroustrup

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