FTC Contemplating Anti-Trust Inquiry Against Apple Over Ban Of Cross-Compiler Programs
The New York Post and Reuters have reported that the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are contemplating an antitrust inquiry into the recent changes incorporated by Apple in its iPhone Developer Program License agreement.
The changes that were brought into effect last month prohibited app developers from using cross-compiler applications to develop applications for iPhone OS.
According to these reports, a final decision on the inquiry is expected to be taken in few more days. The inquiry shall be followed by a full-fledged investigation into Apple's policies to determine if the company had indeed violated the antitrust laws. According to David Balto, a former policy director with the FTC, Apple's moves appear anti-competitive at the outset. He says:
"What they're (Apple) doing is clearly anticompetitive … They want one superhighway and they're the tollkeeper on that superhighway,"
Apple introduced the controversial changes to the iPhone Developer Program License agreement with the launch of iPhone OS 4.0 just days ahead of the launch of Adobe's much publicized Creative Suite 5 software last month. The move was seen as a deliberate attempt to challenge Adobe's Flash-to-iPhone compiler that would enable app developers to easily port their Flash applications to the iPhone platform. This decision had triggered a spate of discussions over the merits of Apple's policies. However, Apple had argued that cross-compiler applications tend to create an intermediate layer between the app developer and the app platform that could potentially degrade the quality of iPhone apps since these applications would be overtly dependent on software developed by third parties like Adobe.
It needs to be noted that an inquiry does not always lead to prosecution and any possible actions against Apple are at least a few months away.
Apple is learnt to be already reviewing possible ways to counter FTC's actions. The Wall Street Journal claims that according to their sources Apple could be staving off a potential fallout with the FTC by scrapping the changes made in the iPhone Developer License Agreement. This is however a speculation at the moment and needs to be taken with guarded skepticism.
What are your views on this case? Do you see merits in FTC's decision to order an antitrust inquiry against Apple? Or should Apple be given a free hand to lay down its rules for the iPhone OS platform? Let us know your views in the comments below.
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