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EU Plans To Make Apple, Adobe and Others Open Up 389

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the jaws-of-life dept.
FlorianMueller writes "After pursuing Microsoft and Intel, European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes is now preparing an initiative that could have an even greater impact on the IT industry: a European interoperability law that will affect not only companies found dominant in a market but all 'significant' players. In a recent interview, Mrs. Kroes mentioned Apple. Nokia, RIM and Adobe would be other examples. All significant market players would have to provide access to interfaces and data formats, with pricing constraints considered 'likely' by the commissioner. Her objective: 'Any kind of IT product should be able to communicate with any type of service in the future.' The process may take a few years, but key decisions on the substance of the bill may already be made later this year."
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EU Plans To Make Apple, Adobe and Others Open Up

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  • by FlorianMueller (801981) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @12:59PM (#32759262) Homepage

    The EU can't formally legislate on what companies are allowed to do in the US market, but in practical terms, we're talking about a global market for IT products and (especially) Internet-based services. If vendors wanted to apply a different set of openness and interoperability standards in the US than in the EU, they would have to make a lot of efforts to keep the markets separated. They can do it, such as by refusing connections from certain sets of IP addresses, but it would be a major hassle. If many vendors did so, lawmakers in the US would also take a closer look and might consider a similar initiative to benefit customers in their own country.

    Concerning Microsoft, the new law isn't even needed for them because they were already subjected to two antitrust proceedings in the EU on the grounds of being found dominant. More importantly, I'm not aware of them treating the US market any differently concerning interoperability with Samba than they treat the EU, even though it was only a European ruling.

    The biggest benefit of the envisioned new EU law is that similar rules would also have to be respected by companies who may just not be close enough to a monopolist so that antitrust law can deal with them, but who are powerful enough (such as Apple, Adobe etc.) that it's a problem if they get away with too closed an approach. I don't mean to blame those companies for simply trying to maximize shareholder value or for adhering to certain closed philosophies -- but if antitrust law can't change their behavior, a new instrument is needed.

  • Re:Yeah (Score:2, Informative)

    by cc1984_ (1096355) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @01:05PM (#32759358)

    Because trying to have Microsoft and Intel open up were such successes ...

    That makes absolutely no sense. The EU bitch slapped those companies for anti competitive behaviour. It had nothing to do with their openness (or perceived lack thereof.) Opening up was not their end game.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8047546.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7266629.stm [bbc.co.uk]

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@NoSPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday July 01, 2010 @01:07PM (#32759382)

    Apple's customers already do.

    Apple's formats:

    Audio: AAC (open)
    Video: H.264 (open)
    Mail: .mbox (open)
    Address book: vcard (open)
    Calendar: ics (open) (and Apple provide open source calendar server and address book servers based on WebDAV)
    Office apps: documented XML, similar to Open Office's format (very easy and non-DMCA/non-illegal etc to write a converter, lots of documentation on how the format works, unlike .docx for example)
    Screenshot format: png (open)
    Networking protocols: NFS, SMB, AFP, Bonjour (Zeroconf), FTP, sFTP
    HTML engine: Webkit (open)
    Disk drive format: HFS+ (open)
    OS core: Darwin, default shell is bash (open).
    Printing system: CUPS, postscript, PDF

    And while it't not open, Snow Leopard supports Exchange servers out of the box, if you want to play in a Windows environment.

    While the Apple experience is very vertically integrated, if you really want to move your data in or out, you can do so very easily. For example, if you decided that you wanted to change all your documents to Open Office formats you could do so. If you no longer wanted to use Mail.app for your email all your messages are in .mbox format and are easily portable to any other system (unlike, for example, Outlook's .pst format).

    I know it is heresy to even suggest it on slashdot, but as an Apple user you already enjoy a lot of openness and interoperability on the desktop. All the faff about the iPhone and iPad masks that, it seems.

  • Re:NOT great news (Score:3, Informative)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@NoSPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday July 01, 2010 @01:10PM (#32759448)

    You can get Xcode for free, including the GCC compiler.

    You can get *all* the tools for free, and test on the iPhone simulator without paying a dime. You only need to pay the $99 if you want to deploy your code onto a physical iPhone (and from there, onto the app store).

    Developing for OS X iteslf (using the same Xcode) is totally, completely, utterly free and always has been (since at least 10.1 - the dev tools have been distributed with the install CDs, or you can just get them for free off the Apple website).

  • Re:NOT great news (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 01, 2010 @01:13PM (#32759498)

    http://www.opensource.apple.com/

    Doesn't seem to require an account to me, and look, GCC sources for the latest tools, and even the latest OS. Only missing the OSS bits for iOS 4.0 at this point.

  • Re:NOT great news (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pius II. (525191) <PiusII@@@gmx...de> on Thursday July 01, 2010 @01:16PM (#32759538)
    ADC online accounts are free. The source for their latest gcc can be found here [apple.com]. You don't have to have an account to download it. For some other things on their open source page [apple.com], you have to login, though. Assuming you were actually interested in developing for OS X, I'd advise you to use clang [llvm.org] instead; gcc sucks bigtime in comparison, and will not be seriously updated by Apple anymore.
  • by perpenso (1613749) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @01:17PM (#32759572)

    I'm against DRM in general, but the reality of my situation is that I have a ton of DRM'ed songs and videos bought from iTMS.

    I would willingly pay $30 to get a Linux-based player for this content.

    I wonder if that could happen under this plan?

    My understanding is that the Apple iTunes Store can remove DRM from old 128 kbps purchases if you upgrade them to the 256 kbps versions currently being sold. I don't think Apple is selling songs with DRM any more.

    --
    Perpenso Calc [perpenso.com] for iPhone. Classic Scientific and HEX functionality plus RPN, fractions, complex numbers, dotted quads, 32/64-bit signed/unsigned bitwise operations, UTF-8, IEEE FP decode, and RGB decode with color preview.

  • by ianturton (655126) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @01:38PM (#32759924) Homepage

    No, more like "I'd like to change GIS systems, can I get my data back, please?" - Currently if you go with the industry leader you are screwed. For example the US Air Force mandates that all it's bases store their maps in a proprietary DCMA protected format (got to love lobbiests) - This means that the US Air Force Academy spent $25 Million in a non compete tender to ESRI each year to licence the software they need to get to their own datasets (https://www.fbo.gov/index?tab=core&s=opportunity&mode=form&id=01da8bda20d8acaa50c7af0bba1f980c&tabmode=list). This is my taxes going down the drain each and every year.

    I guess the EU just got fed up with this sort of tax waste and feels that it is preventing others entering the market. Even if I give my software away I can't beat vendor lock in like that.

  • by am 2k (217885) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @01:39PM (#32759964) Homepage

    They're in the process of switching to LLVM, so keeping up to date on gcc isn't really necessary any more.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 01, 2010 @01:40PM (#32759986)

    I just tried that. Not possible in the "pirate-haven" Canada. Or at least I'm too dumb to figure it out. iTunes just says "Can't export protected content".

    PS. That was my first and last iTunes purchases a number of years ago. Can't "upgrade" or remove DRM with iTunes.

  • Re:NOT great news (Score:3, Informative)

    by painandgreed (692585) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @02:04PM (#32760486)

    Well, except in the case of energy regulation, every state that has deregulated has instantly had massive price spikes (or are these good for the consumer?)... and insurance where the companies kick you out as soon as you file claims unless regulated.

    You forgot to mention blackouts from power companies overloading the grid by trying to treat electricity as a commodity on a grid that was not designed to handle electricity as a commodity.

  • by mangu (126918) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @02:06PM (#32760528)

    You can get *all* the tools for free, and test on the iPhone simulator without paying a dime. You only need to pay the $99 if you want to deploy your code onto a physical iPhone

    It's like a country that has freedom of thought. You are allowed to have any thoughts you like, as long as you keep them inside your head and don't express them in any way.

    What good is a phone application, if you can't run it in a phone?

  • Re:Great News (Score:5, Informative)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Thursday July 01, 2010 @02:20PM (#32760780) Journal

    Well then the question I would think is "should they be" and considering they own more than 70% [wikipedia.org] of the market and has used that power to stifle competition [arstechnica.com] I would say when it comes to multimedia that would be a big YES!

    Just because Apple makes pretty iStuff doesn't mean they should be allowed to lock down the market or threaten competition. And I would say that iPod pretty much owns the PMP market hands down, which gives iTunes considerable leverage. Frankly I'm just waiting for the inevitable antitrust suit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 01, 2010 @02:31PM (#32760996)

    Your use of the term "cell phone" implies to me that you are American. Over here in Europe (definitely the UK), we can already buy a mobile phone from any network operator and, with a little software jiggery-pokery, it will work across all networks provided you have a SIM for that network.

  • Re:NOT great news (Score:3, Informative)

    by jbezorg (1263978) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @02:42PM (#32761220)

    When government fucks with free markets, the customer loses, always.

    No. They don't. I like my strawberry tart without so much rat in it.

    Considering Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle", President Theodore Roosevelt considered Sinclair a "crackpot" and wrote to William Allen White, "I have an utter contempt for him. He is hysterical, unbalanced, and untruthful. Three-fourths of the things he said were absolute falsehoods. For some of the remainder there was only a basis of truth." Roosevelt however did sent two investigators to appease public outcry. Labor Commissioner Charles P. Neill and Social Worker James Bronson Reynolds.

    From: http://www.bls.gov/opub/blsfirsthundredyears/100_years_of_bls.pdf [bls.gov]
    Page: 48 & 49

    Packinghouse conditions

    For over a decade, reformers had been demanding Federal legislation to require the accurate labeling of preserved foods, beverages, and drugs. Germany and other European countries had roundly condemned American preserved meat and packinghouse products. Veterans of the Spanish-American War remembered none too fondly the "embalmed beef" of the quartermaster. Such legislation had passed the House only to die in the Senate, and Roosevelt urged its adoption in his message to Congress in December 1905.

    Early in 1906, Upton Sinclair published "The Jungle", which exposed the unsanitary practices of the Chicago packers and stirred public indignation. Roosevelt called for action. The Bureau of Animal Industry of the Department of Agriculture, which maintained a staff of inspectors at the stockyards, immediately launched an investigation. The President directed Neill to make an independent inquiry: "I want to get at the bottom of this matter and be absolutely certain of our facts when the investigation is through." Neill, along with James Bronson Reynolds, a reformer from New York City, spent 2 and 1/2 weeks gathering information and then submitted a report to Roosevelt, who praised him for his work. In addition, not satisfied with the report of the Animal Industry Bureau, Roosevelt asked Neill to revise it.

    Based on these reports, Roosevelt ordered the Department of Agriculture to prepare a bill establishing more stringent meat inspection procedures. Senator Albert J. Beveridge introduced the proposal in May. The so-called Beveridge Amendment quickly passed the Senate, where the packers made no fight. The press reported that the packers "were willing to agree to almost any kind of legislation" to Prevent publication of the Neill-Reynolds report.

    However, Representative James W. Wadsworth of New York, Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, mounted a vigorous opposition in the House. Thereupon, Roosevelt released both reports. As he transmitted the Neill-Reynolds report, he declared, "The conditions shown by even this short inspection to exist in the Chicago stockyards are revolting. It is imperatively necessary in the interest of health and decency that they should be radically changed. Under the existing law it is wholly impossible to secure satisfactory results." The Neill-Reynolds report had described the poor lighting and ventilation facilities; the "indifference to matters of cleanliness and sanitation" demonstrated by the privies provided for men and women; and the uncleanliness in handling products.

    The packers retorted in congressional hearings that their procedures were sanitary and wholesome but that they would favor more efficient and expanded inspection. Nevertheless, their defenders in the House treated Neill harshly when he came to testify, prompting him to complain, "I feel like a witness under cross-examination whose testimony is trying to be broken down."

    In the meantime, the press reported vigorous activities at the packinghouses where "carpenters and plumbers and kalsominers ( note added: whitewasher / painter ) by the score are at work on alterations." Nevertheless, a great outcry continued in both American and foreign newspapers. On June 19, Congress agreed to a meat inspection bill, and the President signed it on June 30, the same day he signed the Pure Food Law.

  • Re:Great News (Score:3, Informative)

    by polyp2000 (444682) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @02:44PM (#32761266) Homepage Journal

    To Clarify that comment ...

    Michael Sweet, who owns Easy Software Products, started developing CUPS in 1997. The first public betas appeared in 1999.[2] The original design of CUPS used the LPD protocol, but due to limitations in LPD and vendor incompatibilities, the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) was chosen instead. CUPS was quickly adopted as the default printing system for several Linux distributions, including Red Hat Linux.[citation needed] In March 2002, Apple Inc. adopted CUPS as the printing system for Mac OS X 10.2.[3] In February 2007, Apple Inc. hired chief developer Michael Sweet and purchased the CUPS source code.[4] (wikipedia)

    The guy that developed cups in 1997 was hired in 2007, a whole 10years later. You can hardly credit Apple for developing CUPS, since it had been in development for 10yrs before they Hired Michael. If Cups had not existed - you can bet your bottom dollar whatever printing framework OSX would be using now would not be enjoying the freedom of operating on other platforms.

    Its fair to say however - its nice that they did hire Michael and are continuing to support the development of CUPS.

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @03:18PM (#32761924) Homepage

    record every keystroke and constantly surveil us with built-in webcams and microphones..

    Well, then they can follow US's [huffingtonpost.com] steps [slashdot.org]...

  • Re:NOT great news (Score:3, Informative)

    by Urkki (668283) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @04:02PM (#32762724)

    Wow. Who knew, you need to own a Mac to use development tools made for the Mac.

    I think the complaint was, you need to own a Mac to use development tools for iPhone & co, which have nothing to do with Mac, really. And actually I believe (please correct me if I'm wrong!) Apple has gone out of their way to make it so that you can't have development tools for eg. Linux. "Out of their way" including things like making it explicitly a breach of whatever license agreements if you do that.

  • Re:NOT great news (Score:3, Informative)

    by jbezorg (1263978) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:01PM (#32763780)

    I'm throwing a BS penalty flag.

    First Infraction: If we extend your logic to all regulations, we shouldn't have police either. They can't prevent every crime, the system will be gamed and people will think the government is "watching out" for them. In reality, consumers are anything but complacent even with the regulation we do have. Google "Product Review".

    Second Infraction: That filthy restaurant in your scenario would shut down for a week after news got out, change the signs, change the name of the company, paint over the grease stained walls or change location, and open right back up and do the same thing all over again. Then repeat ad-nauseum. Literally.

    Summary: Regulation does not have to mean the end of competition. The customer still has to see value. It means you can't attempt to skew and deceive people about actual value, i.e. cheat them, with the only repercussion being "Oh well, don't buy there/that brand anymore because you got screwed" because re-branding means you'd probably be screwed over again.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@NoSPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:14PM (#32763994)

    "Revision history:

    02/19/2010 - 1.0 - Major - Initial Availability"

    It's good that it is finally documented, but it has been documented since February this year. Nice to finally see it opened up after all these years.

    So, which "many" of Apple's formats that I listed are restricted? Note that Apple does not own or control H.264 or AAC. These are open in the same way mp3 or GSM, or any number of patented but documented formats are.

    I guess we can add .pst to the list now, as of February 2010.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @10:20PM (#32768004) Journal

    EU is a very big market, bigger then US in fact. It's not something that is easy to dismiss for any multinational corp.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:59AM (#32768968)

    Reading the article, I don't see the issue as being anything more than the data created or purchased being interoperable. Buy an eBook or mp3, and it should be usable on platforms that claim to read eBooks and play mp3s. Create data like photos or documents, and the data created should be usable on other platforms which claim to support those same formats. That's reasonable and probably acceptable to most device makers as long as the standards are established.

    But it's not saying that if you buy an iOS 4 Tetris app from Apple's app store that it should work on your Nokia N97. At best, it's saying that data created with that Tetris app (e.g. players high score lists) should be transferable to another Tetris app on another platform... if there is a standard for Tetris app information. We (probably) aren't going to see alarm clocks that play Tetris, but we might see alarm clocks that can play the same tunes you bought in 2001 even though your Nomad finally died.

    This doesn't appear to break down any walled gardens or worse, make the government the purveyor of the biggest walled garden, but it just makes it easier to swap from one garden to another when your gardeners raise their prices and try to lock you out of what you created and bought yourself. You can get what's yours and move to somewhere else, be a different garden or a wild open source forest.

"Out of register space (ugh)" -- vi

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