FTC: Apple Too Big for Its Britches?

By Helen A.S. Popkin
|  Monday, Jun 14, 2010  |  Updated 7:45 PM EDT
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FTC: Apple Too Big for Its Britches?

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds the new iPhone 4 after he delivered the opening keynote address at the 2010 Apple World Wide Developers conference June 7, 2010 in San Francisco, California.

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“Drink the Kool-Aid!” could be the theme of an Apple video directed at app developers — at least if you view it in conjunction with the Wall Street Journal report on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether the iCompany’s “business practices harm competition in the market for software used on mobile devices.”

Set to a soundtrack of what sounds like a Windham Hill sampler, a social register of software developers sing the Apple platform’s praises and superiority over all others.

“We've actually spent some time working with other platforms,” said Calvin Carter, the dude behind Bottle Rocket's “NPR” app, one of more than 250,000 in the App Store for the iPhone, the largest app program among mobile devices. “It's a night and day difference. They're more difficult for the user. They don't have the power or the tools available. They don't have the distribution network. They don't have the standards, both in hardware or in software.”

Unfortunately for Apple, that “We’re-the-only platform-that-matters” sentiment is heard by more than just developers. After weeks of discussion, the FTC beat out the U.S. Justice Department over which agency gets to investigate allegations that Apple is blocking competitive companies from its ubiquitous computing platforms.

Adobe Systems and Google — with its Android Market for apps — are at the forefront of these complaints. Back in April, Apple CEO Steve Jobs penned a 1,500-word memo on why Adobe’s Flash video isn’t good enough for the — future of Apple products. Google, meanwhile, is irritated that Apple’s new rules for developers may resulting in blocking ads by the search engine giant (along with other companies) from iPhone and iPad games and other applications.

Google recently endured its own 6-month FTC investigation. Google outbid Apple and purchased AdMob, one of the one of the world's largest mobile advertising platforms. The purchase was finally cleared, the Wall Street Journal notes, when Apple hopped on the mobile ad market with its own program, iAds.

The commission “has reason to believe that Apple quickly will become a strong mobile advertising network competitor," the FTC said at the close of the Google investigation.

Now the concern seems to be that Apple may become too strong. 

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