According to a new report, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have come to an agreement that the latter will open a formal investigation into Apple’s iPhone policies. The investigation will look into whether or not Apple’s prohibiting developers from using cross-compilers is anti-competitive. It is unclear whether or not the FTC will also look at Apple’s ban of Adobe Flash on iOS devices as well as section 3.3.9 of the iOS developers agreement which blocks Google’s AdMob from serving ads on the iPhone and iPad. The Department of Justice is said to be in the preliminary stages of an investigation into whether or not Apple has an unfair advantage in digital music distribution. But for the matter at hand, the FTC faces a tough challenge with its investigation. Apple claims it is essential that iOS applications are natively developed to ensure quality and compatibility. Previous experiments with cross-compilers led to what Apple claims were inferior applications, something it fears could damage the platforms reputation for quality applications. On the other hand, many believe that Apple enjoys far too much control over its products and this creates a lack of competition which does nothing but hurt developers and consumers alike. Neither Apple nor the FTC have commented on the matter. More →
The Federal Trade Commission had been investigating Google’s bid to buy mobile advertising firm AdMob…that is until today. In an official statement, the FTC wrote, “after thoroughly reviewing the deal…it is unlikely to harm competition in the emerging market for mobile advertising networks.” Apple’s decision to venture into the mobile advertising space (see iAd), seems to have helped Google, as the FTC explains: “As a result of Apple’s entry (into the market), AdMob’s success to date on the iPhone platform is unlikely to be an accurate predictor of AdMob’s competitive significance going forward, whether AdMob is owned by Google or not.” The acquisition provides yet another front in the “mobile war” for Apple and Google to fight on. Let the games begin! More →
On the eve of I/O 2010, Google CEO Eric Schmidt made some pretty interesting comments to Reuters. First and foremost on his mind was AdMob, the mobile advertising giant that Google has been trying to acquire since November of last year. The $750 million deal is currently on hold as the FTC looks into whether or not the sale could negatively impact developers that rely on mobile ad revenue. Although confident the deal will eventually be given the thumbs up, Schmidt vowed that his company would “fight very hard” if blocked. As Schmidt put it, Google’s purchase of AdMob would allow it to open up “a more competitive market on the iPhone platform,” an obvious dig at section 3.3.9 of the iPhone developers agreement which prohibits apps from collecting and sending device data “to a third party for processing or analysis.” Despite all of the relatively tough talk, Schmidt reiterated previous comments that Apple and Google will continue to work together when mutually beneficial and that he and Steve Jobs still get along. Good to know. The question is: How does Steve feel? More →
According to The Wall Street Journal, the federal antitrust probe looking into alleged anti-competitive practices by Apple has been extended to include an investigation of Apple’s recently announced iAd service. Citing “people familiar with the matter” (natch), the WSJ reports that both the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are taking a close look at Apple’s decision to prohibit developers from extrapolating analytical data from users devices. The main concern is that Apple will effectively be able to lock out competing advertising services from the iPhone OS by making it difficult for advertisers to properly target their ads. The most recent version of the iPhone developers agreement makes it clear in section 3.3.9 that “The use of third-party software in Your Application to collect and send Device Data to a third party for processing or analysis is expressly prohibited.” Several anonymous iPhone developers as well as at least one AdMob employee were said to have discussed the matter with the FTC, as was a wireless advertising executive who was approached by the FTC in its quest to learn about what implications, if any, section 3.3.9 will have on the wireless advertising industry. At this point in time there is no guarantee Apple will actually be rung up in an antitrust suit, but the fact alone that the government is keeping such close tabs is surely not a good sign for the Cupertino company. More →
The New York Post is reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are, “locked in negotiations over which of the watchdogs will begin an antitrust inquiry into Apple’s new policy of requiring software developers who devise applications for devices such as the iPhone and iPad to use only Apple’s programming tools.” The Post, claiming to have “sources familiar with the matter,” goes on to say that the two government agencies, “are days away from making a decision about which agency will launch the inquiry.” The Post speculates that the inquiry is a byproduct of Apple’s hard-line on Flash, however, 9 to 5 Mac speculates (probably more accurately) that the inquiry is driven by Apple’s recent ban on third-party “rapid app development tools” and restrictions on “unauthorized programming code” as mandated by the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement. Whatever the reasoning, it looks like Apple’s General Counsel will continue to earn their keep. What do you think? Should Apple have the right to exert totalitarian control over their development ecosystem… or, should they play nice and let others join in the fun? More →
If your bid to acquire a company is being questioned by the FTC for “anticompetitive” reasons, you have to love when another high-profile company decides to enter the very same space. So for Google, Apple’s decision to launch its mobile advertising platform, dubbed iAd, could not have come at a better time. Google’s $750 million bid for mobile ad leader AdMob, who currently serves up a third of all mobile adverts, has been under serious scrutiny by the FTC. Antitrust regulators are citing concerns about the amount of money, or lack thereof, the users — mostly developers — of services like AdMob are paid. Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt commented on Apple’s new presence in the mobile ad space by saying it is: “evidence of a highly competitive market.” We thought he might say that. Will iAd, with its one platform target, really be enough to sway the FTC into green-lighting the AdMob acquisition? Only time will tell. More →
Verizon has been singing, “Give me the green light… I’m ready to go right now,” as its Alltel acquisition has finally been given the official go ahead. After receiving approval from the FCC, Verizon has finally been given the green light by the Federal Trade Commission as well. The FTC has decided to remove the biggest speed bump to the deal, its antitrust review. Although the $5.9 billion dollar merger will make Verizon and Alltel the largest wireless provider in the US combined, the FTC didn’t think there would be any antitrust issues (Verizon is, after all, divesting 100 markets in the US to comply with the FCC). Now after receiving the seal of approval from the FCC, Justice Department and FTC, Verizon is hoping to finalize the deal by late this year or early next year. Verizon surely has its work cut out for it as it’s forking over that $5.9 billion and taking on Alltel’s $22.2 billion in debt – but hey, at least Big Red can claim to be the largest network in the country now.