Print 46 comment(s) - last by Lord Evermore.. on Jan 3 at 7:57 PM

The hip computer maker battles with another headache

Shortly following news of Apple’s stock options backdating scandal, the Associated Press is reporting that the company is now facing several lawsuits, including one alleging that Apple is monopolizing the digital music market.

The lawsuit is over Apple’s proprietary iPod and iTunes software, which is generally incompatible with non-Apple products. Media purchased on iTunes is supposed to be playable only on iPod hardware, and songs purchased on other DRM systems are not easily playable on iPods.

Apple motioned for the courts to dismiss the case, originally filed July 21, but the courts denied the motion on Dec. 20. The plaintiff seeks unspecified compensation.

Apple is also facing a lawsuit, filed on Nov. 7, over the supposed high failure rate of the logic board in the iBook G4. Another lawsuit filed by PhatRat Technology accuses Apple of patent infringement for its iPod-Nike product.

While the iPod reigns supreme in the music player market, Apple’s success has not come without a price. Last year, Creative Labs sued Apple over patent infringement of the iPod interface, which eventually lead to a countersuit. The companies eventually settled on having Apple pay Creative $100 million for use of the patented technology.

The popularity of the iPod has drawn attention from hackers discontent with the proprietary nature of the device. Jon Lech Johansen, who cracked DVD encryption, has undone Apple’s protection scheme and plans to license his work to companies interested in opening up interoperability between iPod/iTunes and non-Apple devices.

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RE: Monopoly?
By FITCamaro on 1/2/2007 1:40:48 PM , Rating: 2
Last time I checked Microsoft doesn't prevent certain companies from writing software for Windows. That is the issue with the iPod and iTunes. You're paying for something and then being told that you can't use it with anything else. Now software written for a Mac doesn't work with Windows and vice versa, but that is because they don't work the same and its up to the software developer to overcome that hurdle.

Apple engineered the iPod and iTunes to prevent any open compatibility. And if people didn't break the law to circumvent it, you couldn't play any music purchased on iTunes on other devices or outside of iTunes. Microsoft shouldn't be broken up for a majority of people choosing to use its OS. Apple should be forced (and maybe punished) to make its media playable on other devices and software.

RE: Monopoly?
By therealnickdanger on 1/2/2007 4:06:09 PM , Rating: 2
Apple should be forced (and maybe punished) to make its media playable on other devices and software.

I disagree with that one. I don't want own an iPod and probably never will, but I'm certainly not going to punish them or force them to do anything to prevent them further success. If millions of people are buying and using the iPod and iTunes, I can't see the negative. It's Apple's player, Apple's content, and Apple's software and consumers go into it willingly. As an FYI, the iPod has been hacked to death, so there really aren't any limitations on consumers...

RE: Monopoly?
By FITCamaro on 1/2/2007 5:03:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yes it has been hacked but legal consumers shouldn't have to commit illegal hacks to do what they want with the content they have purchased.

And just because millions of people are stupid enough to agree to it, doesn't make it right.

RE: Monopoly?
By TheLiberal on 1/3/2007 6:10:22 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure about the grounds of the lawsuit, but I do agree that having millions of stupid followers does not make you right. Just look at the 2004 election.

RE: Monopoly?
By therealnickdanger on 1/3/2007 10:07:26 AM , Rating: 1
Well... Tough sh*t. Apple is selling a good product that just happens to be the hottest item around. More power to 'em. They aren't doing anything shady and there are plenty of other options available to consumers.

RE: Monopoly?
By Gooberslot on 1/2/2007 5:43:54 PM , Rating: 2
Most people don't choose MS products, they use whatever their computer comes with. If computers still came with Win 3.11 I bet people would still be using that even if XP was also available.

Back to the subject of media players... How many media players out there only work with Windows XP? Should they be forced to open up and work with other OSs? Should MS be forced to make their DRM work with Apple? You can't force Apple to open their system if you're not willing to make MS do the same. Of course this crap would be a non-issue if it wasn't for DRM and stupid laws like the DMCA.

RE: Monopoly?
By glennpratt on 1/3/2007 10:34:46 AM , Rating: 2
Most people also don't understand the concept of MP3 player, they understand iPod.

Microsoft makes a media player for OS X and so do many other companies. The hurdle here is the different operating systems, it is not illegal. You don't have to hack Windows to make it run certain things. There is nothing stopping you from running Windows applications in Wine on Nix platforms.

RE: Monopoly?
By Polynikes on 1/2/2007 8:32:09 PM , Rating: 3
It's the consumers job to research products. If the iPod doesn't provide compatibility with other products, but you want that, then look elsewhere, or put up with the deficiency. Suing them over something like this is like suing Car company X for not having a 600 horsepower engine in their econobox. :P

RE: Monopoly?
By Lord Evermore on 1/2/2007 8:54:40 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft did prevent OEMs from changing the way the OS looks when it first boots for a user, or installing alternative software. They did make it a contract requirement that the OEM is paying for Windows for every machine sold, whether installed or not, and then a requirement that no machine be sold without some sort of OS installed/included (so now FreeDOS might come with them). This is what made them open to monopoly charges, because they made it nearly impossible for competing OSes to be sold.

A monopoly means that they've made it virtually impossible for anyone to compete through contract terms or government rules which prevent competition. AT&T's monopoly came about because they put up phone lines, wouldn't let anybody else use them, and made it impossible for anybody else to get licenses to put up their own lines. There are many competing media players and media formats, music stores and DRM formats. It's not a monopoly for Apple to simply have the most popular ones, they don't have exclusive control of anything. Anybody else is completely free to build a better one and make it become popular.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
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