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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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By Lord Evermore on 1/3/2007 7:49:31 PM , Rating: 2
Apple didn't use anti-competitive practices, backroom deals, egregious license requirements, in order to make iPod the most common MP3 player. They did it by making a product that everybody loved, and which individual consumers were free to purchase or not purchase. They weren't forced to pay for an iPod with every Mac they bought. They aren't forced to get an iTunes account to use an iPod, they aren't forced to get an iPod to use an iTunes account. Apple is under no legal requirement to make iTunes' DRM format one which other players support, and under no legal requirement to make iPod support other DRM formats.

Using a monopoly to tie two products is an issue if you already have the monopoly, THEN start changing the rules. Apple has always tied iPod and iTunes together, consumers have always had to agree to that when they made the purchase. If they'd gained 80% of the market for music players, then modified them so that they only worked with iTunes, or vice versa, it'd be an issue.

Competing products have no barrier to entry created by Apple, in terms of producing a different music store, or a better music player. Apple is not required to make it easy for their product to interact with others.

Microsoft's legal problems came about because they used anti-competitive practices to get control of the OS market for consumer PCs, and continued to use their monopoly to prevent the possibility of a competing product from even being an alternative in the retail market, and then began tying other applications into the operating system.


"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

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