53 Comments

Summary:

When The Steve talks, people listen. This includes the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. Both want to weigh in on section 3.3.1 of the iPhone OS developer agreement. The Adobe/Apple conflict has now found the eye of multiple agencies in Washington.

fcc_thumb

When The Steve talks, people listen. This includes the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. Both want to weigh in on section 3.3.1 of the iPhone OS developer agreement. Although the agreement has been out for weeks, the Adobe/Apple conflict has now found the eye of multiple agencies in Washington according to this NY Post rumor.

Have they been under a rock the past three years? Didn’t the FCC inquiry regarding Google Voice get the iPhone on their radar? No. But apparently Steve’s letter got them all excited.

Their “concern” (if the NY Post rumor is true) is that somehow Apple is “forcing” developers to use only Apple approved development environments and therefore are locking out companies like Adobe from the iPhone app development platform. Talk about missing the point! There’s a heck of a lot more important things concerning the iPhone for the government to inquire about.

Of all the concerns to have…

I don’t think it’s a major stretch to say most iPhone developers are much more concerned about Apple actually approving their apps rather than what development environment is used to write the apps. Apple wants stable and reliable iPhone apps and by restricting the development tools, it protects its market share by protecting the iPhone and insuring developers don’t use middleware like Adobe’s Flash cross-compiler. Apple’s terms are clearly stated in the developer agreement and developers don’t have to develop apps for the iPhone. There are plenty of other platforms out there. Developers, of course, can use “web apps” which were the only type of apps available the first year of the iPhone. The mystery and randomness behind which apps are approved and which are either not approved or put in purgatory (Google Voice) hasn’t become a concern of either the DOJ or FTC.

If this, why not that?

If these agencies want a piece of the iPhone pie, how about looking at other aspects of the iPhone ecosystem? Apple isn’t just locking out Adobe from iPhone development, it locks out other companies from various parts of the iPhone OS as well. The Fed got all in a huff back in the late 1990s about users being able to choose the default browser and search engine on the Windows platform, but iPhone users are stuck with only a limited choice between Google and Yahoo searches on their iPhone. Browser choice is limited as well. Sure, you can use an app like Opera, but if you want to make it your default app for web links you might as well go pound sand. Why is this limitation of choice OK on the iPhone but not in an OS like Windows?

While the Feds are looking at the bundling issue, why not open an inquiry into the bundling of iLife with all new Macs? As a buyer, if I want to use, say Adobe Photoshop Elements or Premiere Elements, I still have to have iLife installed. I can’t buy a Mac without it. Other products like Adobe Reader are completely unnecessary on the average consumer Mac. Same goes for Google’s products such as Picassa or Chrome. AOL will want their 2 cents when AOL Instant Messenger and Netscpe were supplanted by Safari and iChat. When Microsoft does these “forced defaults” on Windows machines, it’s been a subject of inquiry, but when Apple does this on the iPhone and the Mac platform, how is it not a concern? Mess with Flash though, and you have two federal departments jockeying for inquiry rights!

To even consider going after Apple for any antitrust issues is outrageous when they have less than a majority of the market as Charles reported recently. How can any company be accused of anti-competitive behavior when they don’t even have a majority of said market?

These agencies, of course, are also ignoring how Adobe Flash became the preeminent multimedia format on the Internet: through their purchase of Macromedia as well as other buyouts that killed all other competitors to Flash. Microsoft’s Silverlight pales in comparison to the ubiquity of Flash on the Internet. The DOJ had their chance to weigh in on this issue back in 2005 when they didn’t object to the Adobe purchase of Macromedia. The fact that the iPhone won’t ever run Flash apps is the DOJ’s and Adobe’s own fault. They had their chance to get involved. They made this problem and Apple’s fixing it.

What is this really about? An argument about multiple federal bureaucracies trying to make a name for themselves by attacking a popular product. Apple has done nothing wrong here and section 3.3.1 is mild compared to other things Apple has done. Maybe some powerful federal bureaucrat’s kid is really upset at not being able to play Facebook games like Farmville on their iPhone, and thus, here we are.

  1. Another Apple-writer fanboy, get off your high horse. People and devs should be given a choice.

    Share
    1. I list the many issues that should be covered in an Apple inquiry. A true fanboy wouldn’t list all of Apple’s sins in choice. The developer issue isn’t as important as other issues and at least the issue of bundling and forced browser choice has precedent.

      Share
    2. Juan, every developer on earth has a choice of what platform they develop for. If you don’t like the process for developing for the iPhone…then don’t. There’s your choice. If you don’t like the choices, then don’t develop for the iPhone. End of story.

      Share
    3. Garret Weinacht Wednesday, May 5, 2010

      Another Adobe fanboy who won’t accept that Flash is dying, open your eyes. People and devs need to move on.

      The internet evolved and Flash hasn’t. Flash is a resource intensive vector animation tool with a poor video playback implementation taped to its back. If you really love Flash, Juan, I’d suggest you start petitioning Adobe to rewrite Flash from the ground up because it is currently nothing more than a scab held together by bandaids.

      Share
      1. @Garret another idiot that doesnt accept the fact that end users should have the choice! Whether Flash is dying is not or not is not the factor, Flash is still a major player and iBithes will never experience the full web for another few years or untill flash is enabled. FTW. Go suck a bag.
        @Josh, you are right in a way but still DEV’s can not ignore iphone os and that’s why APPL should be looked at because they trying to force everything and being anti-competitive thats why they are being investigated and why a lot of people are upset.
        @Dave okay you are right about a few things… so Ill give you 60% fanboy status. My bad. lol

        Share
    4. Flash is a buggy whip.

      Kill it and move on!

      Share
    5. I don’t believe in this arguments about choices. Do you blame Dell for not letting you customize a laptop with 486 processor? You can argue that you must be given a choice although it is not good.

      Share
  2. Greg Patterson Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    You miss the point. There is a double standard. The article is quite even handed and points out the failings of the FCC and the DOJ to do what they are supposed to do.

    Share
    1. Thanks for the compliment. I’m not sure that they should be investigated though, not at this point. Where things could get interesting if Apple didn’t allow developers to release the same title on more than one platform or required some “exclusivity” to develop on iPhone OS only.

      Share
      1. Greg Patterson Tuesday, May 4, 2010

        Your welcome. The FCC and DOJ are bluffing. They might be onto something with iAD since the laws around advertising are pretty solid. But about OS application development, they are in over their head. There is very little case law around this area so the DOJ or FCC would have to scrape together a case. And if they do, Apple could come right back with the Adobe / Macromedia merger.

        Share
  3. They do have a choice, develop for another phone.

    Share
  4. It’s clear the FTC has no idea what they’re doing or has a hidden agenda. It seems like they blow the whistle on almost trivial fronts when they’re bigger and better things they could be wasting their time on, such as the Bing/Yahoo deal for starters.

    Yes, I think it’s a cut on innovation and progress to out Flash altogether but honestly Steve Jobs post on issues with Flash brings up several valid points. It sucks but Flash will survive and spring up in other niches. There really is no other program like Flash. It’s too specialized for it to ever go under.

    Share
  5. maybe I don’t understand the whole picture, but anti-trust is about monopolistic situations. Microsoft got stung because they were on 95% of all PC’s worldwide. Since the iPhone OS is not the biggest share of the phone market, locking out everyone else, it is really not an issue. Don’t get me wrong, I am pissed that Apple is putting a straightjacket on all their app developers, but given market the lack of market domination, the US Attorney General doesn’t care.

    Share
    1. That’s the rub:

      1) If Apple controls the market, then there are other issues the DOJ/FTC/FCC should go after first

      2) If Apple doesn’t control the market, this an other issues aren’t relevant

      What will get interesting: will Microsoft make IE for iPhone? ;-)

      Share
  6. I didn’t realize my tax dollars were spent so that these idiots can freak out over a legitimate strategy. Very informative. Thank you for you work.

    Share
  7. I am with David on this one, comparing iPhone OS to Windows is incorrect. The Windows market is far more influential than the iPhone OS market.

    Beyond that I believe Apple should have the right to monitor and decide which applications can and can’t run on their own devices.
    It’s not as if the App Store is tiny and doesn’t have a variety of applications available. I know that the argument against the App Store’s closed ecosystem speaks more towards promoting an open ecosystem, where everyone can have slice of the pie. But since when are we so pro-openness? why are so many people using Windows and Mac OSX and a million other closed-sourced applications? Surely if we cared about it so much we would be all using Linux and FOSS, but alas we don’t.

    I think what is needed is a more clear and defined approval process with clearly laid out rules and guidelines, which are adhered to by the approval team. This of course means that Apple will not be able to deny app submissions from rivals like Google from joining the App Store if they are “up to code”. And therefore I doubt this will really ever happen in any kind of significant way.

    Share
  8. If a car company required part manufacturers to use a certain process to ensure maximum safety and compatibility with their complex system, would the same issue arise?

    Share
    1. Greg Patterson Tuesday, May 4, 2010

      Good good point!!! If you use a part that is not OEM approved you void your warranty. How do we handle that on a smart phone?

      Share
      1. Interesting thoughts, however that would probably violate the Magnuson-Moss Warranty act: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnuson–Moss_Warranty_Act

        This is a developer agreement, not a warranty issue. That Act probably doesn’t apply.

        Share
  9. Being a developer is a choice. No one is forcing anyone to develop for Apple. If you don’t like the rules don’t develop for Apple devices.

    Share
  10. You people sound like Microsoft fanboys, circa 1998.

    If you haven’t used the internebs on an iPad or an iPhone in the past few years, you’d notice that Flash is behind almost all the popular casual games… the same genre that the app store is full of. Why indeed would anybody want to use Adobe’s compiler instead of Apple’s?

    Share
    1. You might want to do a little research on why Flash fails on mobile.

      Share
      1. I have. The challenge is nothing on the level of… say… porting an iPhone app to Flash, so it can run on the web, or vice versa.

        Share
      2. Flash seems to run just fine on my HTC Desire mobile phone. Perhaps Jobs need to allocate more resources to the engineering section (cutting some from the big mouth rant section)

        Share

Comments have been disabled for this post