Regulators from the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice are looking into the possibility of starting an antitrust inquiry against Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) over the company’s recent stipulation that bans app developers from using programming tools for outside mobile systems, the NYP reports, citing an unidentified source. So far, the two federal entities are deciding which one would move ahead with the inquiry.
Filing an inquiry doesn’t necessarily mean that charges would follow. At the very least though, it does represent another in a series of PR headaches for Apple and Steve Jobs, who have come under fire lately for tightening the enclosure around its iPad, such as blocking any use of Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) Flash on the device.
When Apple unveiled the new terms of service agreement related to the forthcoming iPhone OS4 unveiling next month, developers immediately reacted with consternation at the limits that appear designed to preserve Apple’s app dominance versus Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and other challengers. Jobs has insisted that the closed system around its mobile products is designed to prevent bugs and other problems that could diminish consumers’ experience in terms of aesthetics and performance.
The speculation regarding potential antitrust comes amid signs of early success for Apple’s iPad, which passed the one million mark as of Friday.
If Apple is hit with an antitrust inquiry, Google probably won’t take much comfort in it, as it too has become the target of legislators and privacy advocates over its pending acquisition of mobile ad net AdMob.