Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Report: DOJ and FTC investigating Apple (Updated)

According to The New York Post Apple may be getting scrutiny from the U.S. Department Of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for changes it made to section 3.3.1 of its iPhone 4 SDK.

The changes prohibit developers from using cross-compilers to create apps for the iPhone, iPod and iPad. The move blocks the use of Adobe’s new Packager for iPhone feature in Flash Professional CS5 and has turned into a heated battle between the tech titans.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are locked in negotiations over which of the watchdogs will begin an antitrust inquiry into Apple’s new policy of requiring software developers who devise applications for devices such as the iPhone and iPad to use only Apple’s programming tools.

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.

Bloomberg says Adobe requested the review, which isn’t surprising, but ZDNet’s own Larry Dignan wonders if antitrust should delve into the guts of a software developer kit. Is this just a petty tit-for-tat between Apple and Adobe or does this potential government action raise an issue about regulatory power?

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