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Apple iPhone/iPad Developer Antitrust – Really?

Unnamed sources in the New York Post article on May 3rd report that Apple may be under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission and or the Department of Justice for antitrust practices.  The focus of the investigation is around Apple’s new policy for iPhone/iPad developers that require them to only use software development tools provided by Apple.

Specifically, here is an excerpt from the iPhone OS 4 developer agreement:

“applications may only use Documents APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs” and that “applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs.”

Is it wrong for Apple to try and protect the stability of their platform?  I know it may be a stretch to assume they have our best interests in mind.  But I have used a Windows Mobile phone in the past.  It is not pleasant when you have to reboot your phone several times per day just to make sure you can receive calls.  I have to reboot my iPhone once every 14-21 days.  And it is not because it just stops operating or hanging like my Windows Mobile phone has done in the past.  It is only because an app or two will start behaving strangely.

How is this any different from the development kits/agreements for console based video game systems?  The Wii, Xbox, and Playstation all require application developers to use their development kits and abide by their licensing to develop an application on their platforms.

If developers want freedom, encourage them to go develop apps on the Blackberry, Symbian, Android, Palm webOS or Windows Mobile.  If Apple was asking developers to sign exclusive agreements that state if an app is developed for the iPhone/iPad it cannot be also developed/distributed on these other platforms, then let’s unleash the FTC.  But for now, Apple should be allowed to ensure the stability of the platform.

Last time I checked there were plenty of other issues that seem a little more important for the government to be focusing on right now.

The views expressed on this site are my own and do not represent any of my current/past employers, friends, my wife, children, or my pets.

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