US regulators mull Apple antitrust probe: source

09:10, May 05, 2010      

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Regulators are considering an inquiry into whether Apple violates antitrust laws by requiring that its programming tools be used to write applications for the iPad and iPhone, a source said Monday.

The news comes amid a high-profile dustup between Apple and Adobe Systems, which makes the widely used Flash software to provide video and build games.

Although Flash is nearly ubiquitous on the Internet, Apple calls it a balky battery hog and Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs will not allow Flash on the iPhone or iPad, or as a tool on those devices.

Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones since its debut in 2007, and 1 million iPads since its April 3 debut.

The devices' popularity means extra scrutiny about every Apple move related to the smartphone platform.

Both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Justice Department enforce US antitrust law, and no decision has been made on which may pursue the probe into Apple.

The New York Post first reported regulators' interest in Apple's policy. The two agen-cies were locked in negotiations over which would handle the inquiry, and a decision was expected shortly.

"What they're doing is clearly anti-competitive ... They want one superhighway and they're the toll-keeper on that superhighway," said David Balto, a former FTC policy director.

Apple has recently come under scrutiny from US regulators for other reasons. Under pressure from the FTC, Google CEO Eric Schmidt stepped down from Apple's board of directors last year.

Source: Global Times
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