Apple Inc. has received criticism for the use of sweatshop labor, environmental destruction, and unethical business practices.
Additionally, it has been criticized for its litigious legal policy of suing before first gathering all the facts necessary to pursue a legitimate lawsuit.
Accusations of anti-competitive behavior
There has been criticism of the iPhone and the iPod being locked into iTunes and creating an iTunes Store monopoly for these devices. Similarly, Apple has not licensed its FairPlay DRM system to any other company, preventing content purchased from the iTunes store being used on other manufacturers’ devices. As of April 2009, all music on the iTunes Store is DRM-free. However, this does not apply to other content.
Apple was caught up in controversy regarding the online sales of music in the European Union where, as a single market, customers are free to purchase goods and services from any member state. ITunes Stores there forced consumers and other music buyers to iTunes-only sites by restricting content purchases to the country from which the customers’ payment details originated, which in turn forced users in some countries to pay higher prices. On December 3, 2004 the British Office of Fair Trading referred the iTunes Music Store to the European Commission for violation of EU free-trade legislation. Apple commented that they did not believe they violated EU law, but were restricted by legal limits to the rights granted to them by the music labels and publishers. PC World commented that it appeared “the Commission’s main target is not Apple but the music companies and music rights agencies, which work on a national basis and give Apple very little choice but to offer national stores”.
Google Voice controversy
Apple has been criticized over attempting to prevent iPhone users from using the Google Voice application by disabling it on the iPhone. Apple declined to approve the Google application for use on the iPhone, claiming that the application altered iPhone intended functionality, i.e., that with Google voice installation, voicemail is no longer routed to the iPhone’s native application Visual Voicemail but instead is routed through Google’s application, thus “ruining” the iPhone user experience. This caused controversy among iPhone developers and users, and the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began investigating Apple’s active decision to deny users’ ability to install Google Voice from the Apple online store from where users routinely download and install iPhone applications.
Antitrust issue with Adobe Flash and iPhone OS controversy
With the release of iPhone OS 4.0 SDK, Apple changed its terms of service to prohibit programs that are originally written in non-Apple approved languages from being used on the iPhone. This was criticized for being anti-competitive by disallowing use of Adobe Flash and other programs on the iPhone. The New York Times quoted an Adobe employee alleging the policy to be anti-competitive. On May 3, 2010, Ars Technica and The New York Post reported the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) are deciding which agency will launch an antitrust investigation into the matter.
The controversy over Apple’s changes to section 3.3.1 of the iPhone SDK license agreement erupted after John Gruber’s April 8, 2010 Daring Fireball blog post entitled, New iPhone Developer Agreement Bans the Use of Adobe’s Flash-to-iPhone. Strong opposition to Apple’s licensing changes spread quickly with bloggers and others. Others were quick to note that the language used in the agreement also banned other developer tools including MonoTouch, Lua, Unity3D, and many others.
Apple has been criticized for post-launch price changes, most notably after the price of the iPhone was reduced by $200 just two months after its release, resulting in a flood...