06.08.10

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Government Investigation Into Apple’s Practices Goes Deeper, Microsoft Pushes for Similar Action Against Google

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Google, Microsoft at 4:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ad from Apple - 1984

Summary: Apple’s aggressive behaviour as of late has put Apple in a bad position and Microsoft tries to push Google into the same hole

APPLE has begun to upset many of its own ‘followers’ (or “clients” as they are sometimes called). Dan Gillmor has some harsh words for Apple:

At the All Things Digital conference, the Apple CEO acts like closed-system critics are cheaters or porn peddlers

[...]

I’m disappointed beyond words, meanwhile, that journalism organizations are racing to create apps for the iPad, even though they’re putting the final say over whether their journalism is acceptable into Apple’s hands. What does it say about their journalistic principles that they’d do this? Most won’t even respond to the question, and I’ve asked many. National Public Radio’s Kinsey Wilson, who heads up NPR’s online development, is one of the few to admit discomfort with the situation, saying that Apple holds the leverage at this point; he, and other news executives, are basically hoping Apple won’t jerk them around the way it’s done with others.

[...]

You should realize that Jobs’ view of porn — like his company’s view of forbidden political content (the latter policy has been amended in a more liberal way, Jobs said) — essentially means anything more adult than what in the movie business would get a PG rating. (Unless, of course, the Apple content police decide that, say, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, reportedly as racy as some banned apps, should be allowed, which it is.)

[...]

Which is why Apple and Jobs could resolve this issue in a heartbeat. They could encourage users to use only the Apple-approved apps and see only the Apple-approved content. Many, maybe most, would do that.

But Apple could then create a setting that does what the iPhone jailbreakers do unofficially: open the device for unapproved uses. It could come with a stern message like this: “By clicking here, you will be exposing yourself to risks we can’t control.”

Right. Just like my Mac. Just like real life.

“How to Get Rejected from the App Store” is the title of a new article from IDG and Robert Wright from the New York Times chose the headline: “Is Steve Jobs Big Brother?”

It’s not about adult content by the way. Apple blocks applications that compete against Apple’s. “Apple: Make a desktop, your iPad app is toast” — that’s the title of Jason Perlow’s piece. “Apple’s no-donation policy for apps is a cop-out,” says this headline from Ars Technica:

Ars Technica recently started an interesting conversation on the mixed reaction to This American Life’s use of push notifications in its iPhone app (developed at PRX) to encourage donations by its tens of thousands of users (each of whom paid $2.99 to buy the app).

I agree that app developers should use push notifications very sparingly, and they definitely run the risk of negative reactions if the message isn’t clearly tied to the app’s purpose and value. As Seth Lind from This American Life said in the discussion on the post, this was an experiment. Further donation messaging will be in-app, and mostly in the audio itself where Ira Glass can most effectively make the case for why This American Life deserves your support.

Peter Scheer, the Executive Director of First Amendment Coalition, wrote an article titled “Apple’s vetting of iphone apps is ham-handed but not an illegal threat to free speech” and other news suggests that Apple might be breaking the rules in more than one area, so the US DOJ is looking more closely at the company.

Apple has long played itself up as the cool outsider, making fun of rivals like Microsoft as stodgy, uptight business people. However, Apple’s success has transformed it into exactly the type of company it mocks — a giant with effective monopolies in several markets. And according to many observers, the company — one of the tech industry’s largest firms — has become increasingly brazen in its violation of antitrust laws.

It’s not exactly surprising that as Google expands Microsoft is also trying to put Google under the US DOJ’s eye. “Pot, kettle, black? Microsoft voices concerns over Google,” says the headline of this article from Ars Technica:

Although the G-Word is mentioned in several footnotes, Microsoft’s filing gingerly avoids identifying the search engine giant in its prose. But we’re going to go out on a limb and assume the obvious. Google now handles over 70 percent of searches in the United States. No doubt this post will be tweeted with numerous LOLs, ROFLs, and LULZ. Still, Microsoft is joining a chorus of voices who, in one context or another, say that the search engine market should be carefully watched by regulators.

Microsoft is hypocritical. One has to wonder to what extent it has been pushing for action against Apple as well. Either way, to have sympathy for Apple is to sympathise with the MPAA/RIAA and with software that takes away people’s freedom. People who care about freedom don’t buy from Apple.

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