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
of antitrust laws.Last week, government investigators
began to probe whether Apple broke the law by bullying
music companies into dropping a major deal with digital
music provider Amazon.com. Exclusive deals are a common
promotional tool and Amazon.com scored a win by convincing major
music labels to put certain tracks on sale through Amazon's service
one full day before their broad release.Apple caught wind of
the deal and reportedly tried to kill it. Apple, whose iTunes
service controls roughly 69 percent of the digital music market,
reportedly told music labels that it would penalize them if they
carried through with the plan (penalties included refusing to sell
the applicable tracks in iTunes). Now, according
New York Post,
the DOJ investigators are looking to probe Apple even deeper.
It is asking media companies whether Apple is using its position in
the market to bully them on a variety of issues including Flash and
digital content sales. And an angry Hollywood appears more than
happy to comply with the investigation. Remarks one source,
"The [Justice Dept.] is doing outreach. You can't dictate
terms to the industry. The Adobe thing is just inviting the wrath of
everybody."The investigation follows the decision of
several of Hollywood's biggest players, including NBC and Time
Warner, to move towards rejecting
Apple's iPad because of its restrictive terms. They
instead will be looking to offer Flash-driven products on platforms
like Android or webOS tablets.Is the government overstepping
its bounds in digging up dirt on Apple? Or did Apple purchase
its own ticket to trouble by brazenly stomping on competitors and
trying to dictate what
"freedoms" its customers are allowed to enjoy?
Regardless of your opinion, the government investigation appears to
be expanding as it silently marches ahead.
quote: "Amazon tells Sony give me exclusive rights for the first day of sales and I'll sell it at a loss and eat the diff."
quote: "Apple tells Sony if you cut me out of first day sales opportunities I'll carry it but I won't put any signs up for it."