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Pending EU legislation may force Apple to open up its platform to rivals like Adobe.
Change in antitrust laws could have serious implications for many other companies as well

The European Union's European Commission, under the guidance of commissioner Neelie Kroes, has had no qualms with slamming U.S firms with massive antitrust fines.  Now it's preparing a massive new initiative which just may have a major effect on some U.S. firms.

The new measure, called the Digital Agenda, raises many points, but one of the most significant is to redefine what companies can be subject to scrutiny over abuse of their market position.  The Agenda looks to change the necessary language from "dominant" to "significant".  Its text, found here, includes the passage:

Since not all pervasive technologies are based on standards the benefits of interoperability risk being lost in such areas. The Commission will examine the feasibility of measures that could lead significant market players to license interoperability information while at the same time promoting innovation and competition.

This proclamation may affect a number of key players in the tech industry by forcing them to open their gates or face massive fines.  

Perhaps the biggest example is Apple, Inc.  Apple is being probed by U.S. government antitrust investigators over its decision to ban Flash from its iPad and iPhone.  The problem is that Apple can easily argue that it does not have a "dominant" position to abuse when it comes to the iPhone.  And even the iPad, the new clear leader in the tablet industry could stake make similar claims -- after all the term "dominance" is loosely defined.

However, there's little doubt that it plays a "significant" role in the tablet and smartphone industries.

Under the new measure, if the language is approved, the EU may gain the power to force Apple to allow Flash onboard.  It may also be able to finally force Apple to allow third-party devices -- like Android smartphones, the Palm Pre, or rival MP3 players – to sync with iTunes.  The EU has long complained about Apple's efforts to block such syncing.

If the measure forces the hands of companies like Apple, they may feel compelled to eventually embrace similar measures in the U.S.  The U.S. is slowly trending towards a policy of stricter antitrust enforcement, following in the EU's line.

Ultimately the issue boils down to whether the market's largest players have a responsibility to "leave the door open" when it comes to interoperability.  This may come at a small expense to firms to publish documentation, which they could likely cover with licensing fees.  However, what they ultimately truly stand to lose is a tool against their competitors.  

By tightly controlling their platforms and various products' ties, companies like Apple can build their brand in the eyes of the consume -- a key part of the so-called "halo effect" which has driven purchasers of one Apple product to pick up more Apple gadgets.  It's remarkably similar to the inside track that Microsoft Word and Microsoft Internet Explorer were given with Windows -- which landed Microsoft in hot water with U.S. antitrust investigators around the turn of the millennia.  Ultimately, such maneuvers don't even need a monopoly -- as Apple's extensive use of them has proven.  They merely require a significant market share to start; hence the EU's claim.

So is interoperability something that should be mandatory?  Or should companies be allowed to close their platforms tightly?  Advocates of a more laissez faire government would certainly argue the latter, but the EU and Kroes seem convinced of the former, a platform that may have a big impact on some of the tech industry's top firms in the U.S. and abroad.



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be careful with the language
By GruntboyX on 7/2/2010 9:42:18 AM , Rating: 2
While breaking the Itunes/Ipod tie in is a good thing. The language needs to be carefully worded. In the current language they want to open up Itunes. but this doesnt help any of the consumers who purchased Ipods. It would perpetuate a system in which anything could sync with itunes, but only itunes could sync with the ipod. It doesnt help retailers who sell music get access to a large faction of the market. In my mind this is a much bigger deal then forcing other players to sync with itunes.

I am sure the music industry would agree as well :b




RE: be careful with the language
By HrilL on 7/2/2010 10:44:47 AM , Rating: 5
That was completely my thought. I personally hate iTunes and wish I never had to use it again. It is the most bloated POS music player on the market. It does nothing special. Who in the wold needs 6 services for a music player. It forces you to install quicktime(the actual player btw) and the updates always try to trick you into installing Safari...(That box should always be unchecked by default) There are itunes alternatives for the ipod and iphone but they don't work that great and Apple tries to break them with every new update. (Completely anti-competitive and anti-consumer) I'll never own another apple product. I've only owned 2 in my life first and second iphones.


RE: be careful with the language
By reader1 on 7/2/10, Rating: -1
By MindParadox on 7/2/2010 4:01:56 PM , Rating: 3
anticompetitive does not only mean that you lock a person into using only your product (you can only buy the iphone) it can also mean that you only have one option of usage with the product as well (even though there are many alternative media programs out there) itunes is the only one that can be used with the iphone, for example. this is anti competitive, as WMP and Winamp both have a sync capability for devices as well


RE: be careful with the language
By KCjoker on 7/2/2010 6:38:20 PM , Rating: 3
Remember that the next time you whine about Microsoft.


You understand this wrong
By MrAwax on 7/2/2010 9:30:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
market players to license interoperability information

That does NOT mean that Apple would open its platform to Flash. It means that Adobe should allow licensing information to port Flash to iPhone so IF APPLE WOULD LIKE TO PORT IT they could license Flash.




RE: You understand this wrong
By Penti on 7/3/2010 12:39:50 PM , Rating: 1
Apple are free to join the Open Screen Project if they wanted to develop flash for Adobe rather then the other way around and get access to source.

But Adobe wouldn't really develop the product and they (Apple) don't want to bundle it. But at the time they fought about it, Adobe had nothing to show except for none full flash versions like Flash lite.

I understand where Apple comes from, but to be fair they didn't as Palm join in to actually develop Flash Player for mobiles, they also didn't want to open up the system to just some developers. However as said Adobe hadn't demonstrated that they could pull it off as it hadn't engineered Flash 10.1 for mobiles yet, which is of a different architecture then the desktop version which still does CPU compositing. They could have created support for it in several ways. However just opening up the platform wouldn't really have cut it by itself and would have invited others to do webkit-plugins utilizing the hardware. If they hadn't fought about it maybe it could have been supported in iPhone 5 arriving next year, but not this year. They hadn't even released an open beta by the time the iPad released, yet Apple was unfairly criticized for not supporting it. Nobody else where supporting it either in a commercial product. It wasn't available. It wouldn't really have been finish by the time of the iPhone 4 release if they had tried. Android 2.2 with 10.1 built in is just arriving now. But that's also a platform better suited to have that kind of integration. (Droid 2 is released in August for example, Nexus One got 2.2 now though.) Other phones still stuck with 2.1 (or earlier) has no flash support. They can't postpone stuff in the wait for Adobe to get up to speed. It simply couldn't be included as a feature for the product even if they wanted to.

Mind you that the Flash 10.1 in Android 2.2 (FroYo) is still in beta. And that the Flash 10.1 player for Palm isn't released yet. No revolution either way yet. If Apple decides to release it in six months they will still be further along then most in adopting it. However Adobe has much to prove. It serves all companies to rather use the native ways integrated in the device to play videos. Then to go through an still unstable flash beta. At least if you like full frame rate video. It's nice to be able to use ordinary sites. But then it needs to be usable also, it isn't really yet. So why would Apple care about something Adobe doesn't really want to develop any way. They gave quickndirty access to hardware acceleration in OS X but as the Flash Player architecture is so awkward it isn't really a good fit and didn't made it into 10.1. Flash for cellphones isn't here yet so iPhone isn't missing out yet, neither is iPad. It needs to be x86 based to have hardware support, acceleration and that isn't really a MID-tablet. But rather a tablet PC. And you can't compare them two. It's better if the preferred way isn't dependent on Adobe release schedules. Why would you want to engineer something you ultimately has no control of. Integrating it to the device and it's usable as soon as it's included in an update (which is already done and supported by all smartphones). Most flash sites already encodes files that would play back fine directly by the phones own multimediaframework. Dropping being dependent on flash only techniques would be a good idea. Like RTMP and all that broken DRM stuff. It gives the manufacturers control. I don't really think it's about apps. As long as it's browser based only HTML5/CSS/JS apps competes fine with that. Flash in the browser wouldn't replace all the retarded apps people install.


RE: You understand this wrong
By MatthewFabb on 7/5/2010 11:37:05 PM , Rating: 2
Flash Player 10.1 for Android is no longer in beta, the final version was released June 22. When Nexus One's started received OTA Android 2.2 updates that include the final version of Flash Player 10.1.

Adobe also announced that they have given their Open Screen partners the final code base for 10.1. So with Palm, the ball is in their court, but everything seems to be on hold as the HP buyout goes through.

Also while Apple did open up the API for video hardware acceleration on Macs, Adobe wanted a full beta cycle like the Windows version got, rather than rushing it in and finding bugs later. When it was originally announced Adobe has said it would be released after the initial 10.1.

Anyways, if Apple had worked with Adobe, iPhone 4 could have shipped with Flash Player 10.1. In the meantime, someone has ported Flash Player 10.1 for Android to a jailbroken iPad (search YouTube for videos). Support for the iPhone 4 and 3GS is apparently coming as well, but they still need to be jailbroken.


RE: You understand this wrong
By Penti on 7/11/2010 6:19:48 PM , Rating: 2
They didn't open up an API, they created a specialized API just for the task which don't fit well in Flash Players awkward work flow.

But sure (new) Android phones come any day now with the final version. Palm on the other hand has had flash running for years without releasing anything. Point I made with Open screen was they could have treated OS X as a platform to release _and_ develop (and therefore also for iPhone) for themselves. But Apple have been busy doing other stuff, and Palm has been busy not getting out their phones, which I still can't buy here. Adobe should have a more off interest themselves, they don't really have an Apple team, they didn't at first collaborate with Apple or Nvidia and ATI, they did freaking do that on Windows, Microsoft didn't help them a bit. It's all in the drivers there. APIs weren't implemented so they could be used by Adobe. Of course I understand that they want to test it before releasing, but it's just retarded that it's so much harder for them then anyone else. You had CUDA, Elementals etc on Mac (which is used in a freaking Adobe product to begin with.). It wasn't Apple or anyone but themselves stopping 10.1 none-gala getting hwacceleration. Maybe iPhone 4 could have got flash but it would probably still have delayed the phone because of the developing resources not going to the core functions. iPad on the other hand couldn't when it was released. There's still no tablets with flash support really. Nvidia and ATI aren't forbidden to release drivers any how for the mac, and they don't even need to be signed and they are free to include any function they want, IO kit doesn't bring any limitations. It's not Apples fault just as it isn't Microsoft's service that got them enabling hwacceleration on Windows. But of course Apple made the choice not to work on the Adobe flash codebase. But neither did Microsoft. It's not Apple causing the injustice on the desktops, only when it concerns the handhelds. Which they I still say couldn't have counted to be included as a feature to any product. Of course it still can be released for both iPad and iPhone 4, theres no other reason then not have joined open screen project stopping that. But launching it as a feature would have taken a lot of work by Apple and not so much Adobe. It's simply a business structure or strategy not all will jump on. Including Microsoft.

And while it might be final it's still not universally useful. Still not a core feature of any product.


non sequitur
By GaryJohnson on 7/2/2010 9:31:37 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
measures that could lead significant market players to license interoperability information


That sounds like it means that they want to require proprietary technologies to have a licensing option. That certainly would force Apple to allow other device makers to licence iTunes. But how the heck do you get "Force Apple to use Flash" out of that?




Both Ways
By drlumen on 7/2/2010 1:12:18 PM , Rating: 1
If the EU is going to require a hardware manufacturer, like Apple, to support every piece of software then they should require the software makers, like Adobe, to support all hardware and OS platforms like Linux. DirectX for Windows only would be a big no-no.

Seems only fair to me...




RE: Both Ways
By phatboye on 7/2/2010 3:01:49 PM , Rating: 2
This law will not force Apple to support hardware from other companies. You need to reread the article. This law will prevent Apple from taking measures that are created to prevent products from other companies to interoperate with their software. Apple will not have to support anybody's products but their own.


Now THIS law makes complete sense...
By quiksilvr on 7/2/2010 9:11:12 AM , Rating: 2
Apple isn't being forced to share its code or make browser options on their OSX, they are being forced to open up a bit.

I don't see Flash happening (they'll) fight that tooth and nail.

I do see iTunes syncing though. People don't buy iPhones or iPods because of iTunes, they buy it because it's an iPhone or iPod (as idiotic as that sounds). So having more devices being able to integrate with iTunes will boost their song sales and give them more money.




By nah on 7/2/2010 10:53:49 AM , Rating: 2
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/10490572.stm

..something more interesting ..although totally out of topic




Open up Mac OS X as well
By phatboye on 7/2/2010 11:28:54 AM , Rating: 2
Using the same law couldn't they force Apple to open up their Mac OS X platform so that the operating system could be used on hardware other than Apple's own hardware (i.e. Dell, HP, Acer, Leveno etc.)?




EU needs to shut up
By MartyLK on 7/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: EU needs to shut up
By NobleK on 7/7/2010 8:35:47 AM , Rating: 2
Riiight... Because Apple certainly don’t care about a market with a population of over a half a billion high-income potential customers. I think it would hurt Apple a bit more to loose that market then it would EU not to be able to buy an iPod. I know you probably view Steve Jobs as an almighty divine creature which will smite all who dear to wake its wrath, but get real just for one moment.


What is the saying?
By AppIe on 7/6/2010 2:30:40 PM , Rating: 2
Something like "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it."




Spokesman Rejects Rumor
By Hintzmann on 7/29/2010 4:55:45 AM , Rating: 2
Spokesman Rejects Rumor: The EU will not Force Flash Down the Throats of Apple

http://www.technorotic.com/2010/07/spokesman-rejec...




In other news
By xler8r on 7/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: In other news
By AssBall on 7/2/2010 9:15:24 AM , Rating: 2
They already spent all of Microsoft's and Intel's money, so their starting to look around again for more.


RE: In other news
By 3minence on 7/2/2010 9:26:55 AM , Rating: 5
If the EU is going to nail Intel and Microsoft then they should nail Apple concerning it's stuff. If Apple wants to run with the big dogs then they should get treated like a big dog. See how they like it.


RE: In other news
By Fracture on 7/2/2010 12:48:43 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think that anyone will be able to force Apple to adopt flash, since it is merely a business decision by Apple not to include that feature in their product. Government interference in the marketplace for reasons other than safety or health is inefficient and wrong - you can't force someone to add an extra light to a flashlight or a spoiler to a car just because the legislature thinks it's cooler.

There is grounds for allowing competitors on iTunes however since the Right of First Sale is clearly being ignored by Apple. I would normally preach that they can do whatever they want with their software, but the situation is different since the music and media contained (and locked) in iTunes has already been paid for. Customers should be able to use those MP3s or whatever in any way they see fit, not having them relegated to an eternity on iTunes.


RE: In other news
By knutjb on 7/2/2010 1:37:07 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
I don't think that anyone will be able to force Apple to adopt flash, since it is merely a business decision by Apple not to include that feature in their product.
And it was only a business decision by Microsoft to include Explorer for free.
quote:
Government interference in the marketplace for reasons other than safety or health is inefficient and wrong
Unless you tell government they have gone too far with regulation they won't stop and will find ways to justify their actions, i.e. its for the public good even when it doesn't meet safety or health reasons.

That is one of the biggest problems when we think government will do what's best for us, they only do what's best for themselves and holding onto and growing their power and control.

I have been waiting for the EU to hit Apple once the company's value eclipsed MS. They do need another cash cow to siphon from.

I don't care for Apple products because I like to build my own. I think they are a more conniving company than MS but that's their business and I choose to not buy from them, my choice. I don't need or want government to make that choice for me.


RE: In other news
By Lerianis on 7/3/2010 9:48:20 AM , Rating: 4
So, in your mind, this is only about 'siphoning' from successful businesses? They can do that with taxes, they don't need to do that with fines.

No, this is about telling companies when they have gone over the lines that society (as a majority) expect them not to cross, as in the case of Microsoft.


RE: In other news
By knutjb on 7/3/2010 11:44:36 AM , Rating: 1
Why yes it is, the government does need money to run itself but all too often they get greedy and we let them get away with it because it takes a lot of our time to fix and they know it.

Try reading this article without the blinders and pay close attention to the chart; it is from IRS data. It shows a long term direct correlation between tax rates and revenue received. http://www.hoover.org/publications/hoover-digest/a...

Too much randomly applied justice, i.e. waiting to slap them back in line after they make a lot of money rather than dealing with it when it first occurs to cultivate the clear understanding of the rules and that they should not be stretched. Instead the EU lets them get in the habit of stretching the rules then hands out huge fines. Same principle a drug dealer uses, get them hooked on bad habits, then jack up the rates for being hooked because it's hard to change entrenched processes.

The EU aren't the only ones just the most conspicuous for now.


RE: In other news
By Penti on 7/3/2010 2:05:16 PM , Rating: 3
EU doesn't need any of this money, they get all of their from the members tax payers. Which mostly goes back into the member countries in the form off EU subsidies. The budget of EU it self is €106 Billions euros, so what would they care about a billion or so.

EU aren't a form of government that can tax and send the tax services on individual companies. It aren't a government at all. It's up to individual member states to do that :)

And actually you still have to pay and license interoperability information and patents (yes patents applies to software in Europe). They aren't stealing anything. Without the pushing they would have no incentive to open up the DOC and DOCX-formats, no incentive to release detailed specs for interoperability with Exchange server and so on. But maybe you don't want to be able to open up docs in google docs.


RE: In other news
By knutjb on 7/5/2010 5:59:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
EU doesn't need any of this money, they get all of their from the members tax payers.
Like Greece, Spain, and Portugal?


RE: In other news
By Penti on 7/5/2010 9:06:31 PM , Rating: 2
Thats just EU members - sovereign countries with their own budgets. As the EU money goes back to them in form off subsidies they'll of course continue to pay. Otherwise they will be fined and forced out of the EU. It's only EU countries that has budget and trade deficits just like US. Not EU itself as it's just a intra-government and supranational organization which they belong to. It's not the Eurozone countries which get any fines the anti-democratic European commission cobbles together.


RE: In other news
By MadMan007 on 7/4/2010 12:48:29 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
they only do what's best for themselves and holding onto and growing their power and control


Nice rhetoric but you do realize that it only works for non-representative governments where individuals can 'hold power' regardless of what the people say. In representative governments the people and the government are ostensibly the same, the real problem with such systems is when public risk and funds becomes private profit.


RE: In other news
By dhoom00101 on 7/2/2010 11:40:14 AM , Rating: 5
tell u what, try a bit more to understand what EU is doing, apple is the one who is telling, that u CANNOT have "sauerkraut" if u will buy apple's bier, but EU is trying to stop it. Apple is good with beer, so ppl will buy their beer n due to their restrictions, "sauerkraut" is not selling well.
Apple is blocking flash, microsoft doesn't ship with flash, but they are not blocking it either, thats the difference.
quote:
The EU has also decided that you may eat only hot dogs on Fridays. Stay tuned, word has it everyone has a right to receive sauerkraut with every purchase of a Munich bier.


Apple
By excrucio on 7/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: Apple
By Leper Messiah on 7/2/2010 9:22:18 AM , Rating: 2
You are pretty gravely misinformed. AMD and Intel do have a cross licensing agreement for x86 technologies, but that does not extend over to actual architecture designs. This law would not require Apple to publish their source codes or other proprietary code, the API calls to sync with iTunes are already out there, as palm has demonstrated in the past. The Ad Hominem attacks against Microsoft are totally misplaced in this article as well.


RE: Apple
By damianrobertjones on 7/2/10, Rating: 0
RE: Apple
By aegisofrime on 7/2/2010 9:38:35 AM , Rating: 5
Windows bashing isn't cool anymore.


RE: Apple
By p05esto on 7/2/2010 10:21:37 AM , Rating: 5
Sorry fella, Microsoft is the new cool. Apple is for douchebags and turtleneck wearing dorks. MS remains a rock, doesn't play popularity games.


RE: Apple
By reader1 on 7/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: Apple
By Helbore on 7/2/2010 4:36:50 PM , Rating: 2
You know what, I actually kinda partially agree with a Reader1 comment! I wonder if the world really is coming to an end?

Apple certainly understands that the average consumer doesn't understand tech companies. That's why they don't sell any of their hardware based on what it can do, but rather on how shiny it is.

Just look at the old iPod commercials. It was just a bunch of dancing sillouhettes against a bunch of different colours. The point of the advert? Our music player is in different colours. Hardly a testament to its quality as a piece of tech, but it certainly makes the Average Joe go "oooh, pretty."

Like em or not, Apple do have an effective marketing department. If only their after-sales PR was as good.


RE: Apple
By jabber on 7/4/2010 7:27:19 AM , Rating: 2
This is what Apple boils down to -

Average products for the average customer at an above average price.

Anyone else goes elsewhere.


RE: Apple
By edgardcastro on 7/7/2010 7:00:34 AM , Rating: 2
Apparently there's a lot of Geeks out there then.

While the "average" user is bought 3 million iPads in 80 days, a million PCs is sold EVERY DAY.

Whats the definition of average again?


"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller














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