Apple could soon be the target of an antitrust investigation by either the Federal Trade Commission or the Department of Justice, according to numerous press reports, with the feds focusing on its new policy requiring developers to write iPhone OS apps using only Apple-approved programming languages.
The rule would effectively prohibit developers from using third-party code to create iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch apps that can easily be converted into apps for competing platforms including Android, Windows Mobile and Palm’s Web OS. Apple’s new policy also prohibits third-party analytics tools from being inserted into apps, which could make it impossible for competing ad networks to serve advertisements on the iPhone OS. Incidentally, Apple just introduced its own in-app ad platform iAd. This is another point of concern for antitrust authorities, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Not a single source cited in these reports has spoken on the record about the matter, and the FTC and Justice Department declined to comment to us about the state of any such investigation. Both agencies have dealt with technology antitrust issues in the past, and according to the New York Post, which broke the story, they plan to decide which will investigate in a matter of days (the FTC never announces that it is investigating).
Microsoft famously faced a long antitrust case starting in the ’90s. That case centered on the company’s monopoly over the desktop. It started the FTC and later shifted to the Justice Department, which successfully pursued Microsoft in court.
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