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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Apple Faces Possible FTC Inquiry



Here we go, folks-- the war approaches its climax!

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Federal Trade Commission has become interested in Apple's practices, regarding its app development and advertising practices. The groundwork is being laid out for a possible inquiry. The complaints are regarding their most recent licensing agreement which requires any wanting to develop for the platform to use their development kit to do so, in addition to preventing third party developers from transmitting analytical data for advertising (which lead to Apple introducing their iAds program).

As of now, the FTC has been contacting developers and ad agencies to get a full perspective of the issues. No formal action has been announced, so far.

Honestly, I can see how their iAds program could be considered a monopoly for the way it edges out other advertisers from being able to place ads in free apps. Jobs even said himself that he hated the ads that show up in the apps. That's not really his place to say so, and creating a program where people have to pay upwards of $1 million dollars to place Apple-sanctioned ads is pretty lame. Granted, mobile advertising is the next great frontier, but $1 million dollars?! You can create a free app and advertise it for less than a quarter of that price. THAT is kind of insane, and I can see where there will be changes in that regard.

As for the app development tools, I'm not so sure about that one. Apple's shunning of Adobe's Flash is also under investigation, and I don't really see that going as far as the iAd situation. I think in comparison, you could say that Adobe has a monopoly on web development tools. Their Web Design Suite is standard issue for designers and developers on the web, which doesn't necessarily mean that their monopolizing the industry-- it's merely that it's the software package of choice for web development. The mobile environment, which includes smart phones, and tablet computers, have a different set of requirements-- as Microsoft and HP have had to begrudgingly accept with the cancellation of their tablet PCs (which were supposed to run Windows 7-- an operating system that was deemed unacceptable for tablet computing).

Does this mean that the Adobe Flash iPhone compiler will now be in use? I doubt it. I think it may mean that other compilers, like appcelerator Titanium, Cocos2D, and unity, will be able to work...but I think Apple will continue to fight Adobe tooth-and-nail-- regardless if the reasons are political, or technical. Adobe has not made an official comment on the inquiry.

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