Apple Could Face FTC Investigation Over iPhone, iPad Regulations

Dennis Faas's picture

Officials may soon investigate Apple amidst allegations that the company is too restrictive in its demands on developers producing applications for the iPhone and iPad. Criticism of that policy has been particularly strong over Apple's stance on using the Flash multimedia system.

Apple recently changed its terms and conditions to give it the right to pull any application which does not use the company's specified programming and development systems, a list which doesn't include Flash. That prompted Adobe to abandon a tool that allowed Flash developers to easily convert their applications to run on the iPhone.

As noted today, Adobe has accused Apple of attempting to keep its users under control. The dispute has heated up in recent weeks, with critics disputing Adobe staffers' description of Flash as an open source system.

Reasons For Blocking Disputed

Exactly why Apple blocks Flash is far from certain. Company executives have argued publicly that Flash consumes too many resources, most notably battery life, which could really affect a handheld device like the iPhone. There are also suggestions that Flash is too easy to manipulate, posing a security risk.

However, there have been claims that Apple is more concerned that allowing iPhone users full access to Flash-based sites would mean they were less likely to download and pay for applications.

FTC Regulators Could Investigate

It's now being reported that both the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department are considering formal investigations into whether Apple's policies breach anti-trust laws. It's not known which body would take the lead if such an investigation happened. (Source:

While officials are not publicly commenting, it won't necessarily be the case that an investigation would be based around the idea of Adobe being the "victim". Instead, a probe might consider whether the rules are unfair to developers. Some have complained that Apple's regulations, which make it mandatory to use Apple tools, mean production costs can double if they want to produce an app for both the iPhone and another operating system. (Source:

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