FTC Investigates Apple

The Federal Trade Commission will start its investigation regarding Apple’s alleged illegal use of its industry position to harm its competitors in the mobile software market. The Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal have reported that a formal investigation into this issue has already been started by the FTC.

This issue started when several published reports stated that Apple has changed its App Store rules prohibiting some developer tools from being used on Apple’s products. Just recently, they were able to effectively block Google’s AdMob and other mobile ad networks from creating and accessing applications on the iPhone and the iPad. When asked for a comment, Apple refused to give an immediate response or any reaction regarding this issue.

The investigation will look into the allegations that Apple is using its industry position and the success of its App Store to hurt or damage their competitors resulting to unfair competition. When Apple recently tweaked its App Store rules regarding changes in the tools used to write applications, a lot of people were adamant that this change seemed to target Adobe, one of Apple’s competitors and with whom Apple has had a recent dispute.

Developers that use other platforms that will run on multiple devices and Apple’s iPhone will now be blocked by these new rules. Adobe’s Flash Platform and Novell’s MonoTouch were affected by this change. Apple also banned developers that will use the advertising in iPhone applications that will share analytic data to other developers other than Apple.

This new rule also seemed to target Google’s AdMob, one of the most prominent mobile advertising service providers. Google was a former ally of Apple but they also recently had a feud especially when Google developed the Android platform, another player in the mobile software market.

The Wall Street Journal reported that initially, there were discussions between the FTC and the Department of Justice on who should do the investigation. It was decided that FTC should do it since they are more familiar with the state of the mobile ad market when it examined Google’s purchase of AdMob.

This FTC investigation is just one of the other probes into Apple’s business practices. Earlier, the International Trade Commission was also looking at Apple’s alleged infringement of five of HTC’s Smartphone patents. The Department of Justice is also investigating on Apple’s alleged use of its influence in the pricing of digital music.

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