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Government to Launch Apple Antitrust Probe

Government to Launch Apple Antitrust Probe

Jason Mick

If there’s one big company that knows to ruffle feathers, it would be Apple.  Apple has filed a  scatter-shot suit against HTC citing patent infringement, trying to slow down Google’s Android OS’s momentum.  And in the app arena, Apple has been waging a war of words and actions against Adobe’s popular Flash medium.

Apple has never allowed Flash Player to touch the iPhone – that would represent a serious threat to its paid App Store.  With the release of its latest Software Developer Kit (SDK) developer license agreement, though, Apple outdid itself by slipping in a ban on using “an intermediary translation or compatibility layer tool”.  That meant that any apps created with Adobe’s Creative Suite 5 tool that translated Flash apps to native iPhone OS X code were banned.

Adobe responded by dropping support for the tool in coming versions of Creative Studio.

Now The New York Post reports that the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are “locked in negotiations” about who will be the first to file antitrust charges against Apple.  Both are interested in launching inquiries; inquiries are used to determine if a full investigation is needed.  An investigation can lead to big fines as Microsoft and Intel have found out.

Apple’s new policies not only lock out Adobe’s Flash, but also Sun’s Java and Microsoft’s Silverlight/Mono.  Josh Kosman, author of the piece in The 
Post wrote, “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.”

Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple recently accused Flash of crashing Macs and committing other sins.  Adobe’s CEO fired back a response, calling the claims “patently false”.  Adobe is championing Google’s Android smartphone OS in response to the Apple rejection.

Apple thrives on a rebel/underdog image, but in reality it’s bigger than Walmart — the biggest retailer in the world.  The company currently has an incredible $237.6B USD market cap.

The company is also currently being investigated due to Eric Schmidt and another Apple board member’s possible conflict of interest serving on both Apple and Google’s boards.

_© 2009, DailyTech.