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Apple to face antitrust inquiry over iPhone coding restrictions?

Nilay Patel
05.03.10
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Apple's decision to block third-party toolkits and middleware -- particularly Flash -- from being used to develop iPhone and iPad apps has certainly prompted a fair amount of debate around the web, and now it sounds like Steve and the gang might face some even harsher scrutiny: a single-sourced piece in the New York Post reports that the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice are currently tussling over which agency should be tasked with a potential antitrust inquiry into the matter. That would certainly make some noise in the industry, but it doesn't mean much for those of us here in reality quite yet: assuming the report is true, an inquiry would still just be the very first step -- whichever agency is ultimately put in charge would then have to launch a formal investigation and then finally file and win a lawsuit for any changes to occur. That's a timeframe measured in months, if not years.

All that said, we can see why the feds are interested: Apple's slowly moving into an ever-more dominant position in the mobile market, and forcing developers to make a hard choice about which platforms to target certainly puts the squeeze on competitors. We'll be following this one closely -- stay tuned.

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