Is Apple Facing Antitrust Probe over App Development Policies?

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Is Apple Facing Antitrust Probe over App Development Policies?

By | June 2011
Page 1 of 2
– Mon May 3, 12:01 pm ET
Steve Jobs' tirade against Adobe and Flash last week is taking on a whole new meaning in light of Monday's report that U.S. antitrust authorities might be "days away" from deciding whether to take a long, hard look at Apple's recent ban of cross-platform development tools for iPhone and iPad apps.

The New York Post claims that both the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are trying to decide whether to launch a probe into Apple's new app development policies, with a go or no-go decision — as well as a decision on which agency would do the honors — due within a matter of days.

So, why might Apple's recent ban on cross-platform development tools — which, in the case of Adobe's new Creative Suite 5, let you build a Flash app that can be ported over to other mobile platforms, including the iPhone — constitute an unfair business practice in the eyes of the government?

As the Post story notes, Apple's new policy could be seen as essentially forcing smaller development firms with limited budgets to choose between building an app for the iPhone or building one for everyone else, an argument that Adobe has already made. The government could also probe whether Apple's cross-platform development ban is an anticompetitive shot at Adobe, the company behind Flash and the CS5 development tool.

If the FTC and Justice Department really are thinking of giving Apple's "no tools but ours" policy a closer look, it could put Steve Jobs' diatribe against Adobe last week in a whole new light, writes ZDNet's Larry Dignan, who speculates that the lengthy open letter — which goes to great pains to call Apple's ban on Flash a "technology issue" rather than a business decision — was "really geared to regulators. … In other words, Jobs is laying out the case for the feds."

Before you get too outraged over (or excited by) the Post's story, though, here are a few factors to consider. First: The Post is basing its article on a single,...

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