iPhone

Is Apple in for an antitrust fight over the iPhone?

Apple, probably still feeling some PR fatigue over their decision to "brick" unlocked iPhones, is being taken to task over its tight control of a software developer kit (SDK) that can be used to write applications to run on the iPhone.

Apple, probably still feeling some PR fatigue over their decision to "brick" unlocked iPhones, is being taken to task over its tight control of a software developer kit (SDK) that can be used to write applications to run on the iPhone. Although the SDK does allow third-party application development, Apple has severely restricted the use of the kit, which is SOP for it -- to the point that some people are crying "foul." For example, Steve Jobs said that applications like Skype would be able to run on the iPhone when the phone is connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot but not over the AT&T cellular data network.

iPhone rules pose Net neutrality, antitrust concerns (News.com)

In addition to other restrictions, the SDK EULA includes language that would seem to restrict Sun from writing a JVM that would run on the iPhone, saying:

An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise...

The biggest pain is the fact that the only way to distribute applications is through Apple's iTunes and iPhone stores and that Apple will take a 30% cut of all sales through the store. The restrictive nature of the Apple EULA actually led a writer to wonder if Apple was starting its own antitrust woes like Microsoft did.

Sun dreams the impossible Java on Jesus Phone dream (The Register)

iPhone SDK Developers Angry At Apple's Tight Control (Information Week)

I do not think that Apple has any antitrust worries, since it does not hold a monopoly position in cellular phones, but it does need to be worried about the PR buzz it is creating. One of the biggest problems with the model it has created is that there is no apparent way for a business to write applications and then distribute them internally to their users. No business is going to port proprietary applications to the iPhone and then make them available through iTunes. What do you think about Apple's latest moves?

7 comments
quarky42
quarky42

Re: The Question at Hand: I sure hope so. Apple deserves every bit of it for their closed minded black box thinking. I don't love Microshaft either...but it would sure be nice if both companies learned to play ball in a way that supported new ideas instead of limiting and crushing them.

frotty
frotty

Can you please explain why restricting what apps are allowed to run on your platform is cause for antitrust? You seem to think that anyone should have a right to "write applications and then distribute them internally to their users" for someone else's platform. The bottomline is that people find the reliability of Apple products refreshing, and part of that is their tight grip. The tons of sales they achieve due to the relative flawlessness of their apps easily outnumbers the few they'll lose.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I'm an IT professional and as such I tinker. I refuse to pay that much money for a phone only to have the "the free thinkers" over at Apple tell me what I software I can run and what carrier I have to use. It's my phone and I can break it if I want too, especially if I paid my $$$$ for it. It's property of Forum Surfer now, not Apple. Make it so that you void the warranty for installing software. Just further proof that the iPhone is a gimmick and not a valid tool outside of internet access, email or audio video. Can I install my gps software and custom ARC GIS software? No, I need a real smartphone for that. Can I install VPN and use it do diagnose network problems at work while I'm on my boat fishing with my son? No, I need to drag my son to work on a Saturday or get a real smartphone. Can I remote desktop to my servers at work from my boat? Even if I had Apple servers I couldn't...so again I need a real smartphone. Can I look at pdf's, office 07 docs, offic 03 or earlier docs, open office docs or whatever any manager happens to send me while I'm on vacation in an emergency? No, I need a real smartphone. Just goes to show you that the iPhone is for the coffee shop crowd or people that just want a cool looking phone that have no need for anything outside of limited email and internet access. Sorry for the rant, but I'm sick of hearing the iPhone being called a smartphone. It doesn't have half the capability, expandability or customization offered by Windows Mobile or palm. It's a cool looking toy, mind you...but not for the serious smartphone user...as this article further demonstrates. Apple has got to tone down their hardware locking. Tos guys are more paranoid than the Redmond crowd. Would it really kill their business to let users void their warranties (should they choose) and use their phone as they see fit? Would it really hurt Apple to let me purchase OSx and run it on whatever hardware I want (heck, give me a EULA stating they won't provide support unless I install it on genuine Apple products for all I care)?

Andy J. Moon
Andy J. Moon

Apple's tight control over their SDK certainly sounds like something the company would do. They have long been secretive and have always kept a more closed shop than other manufacturers. However, this latest move seems like it is way over the top, with an SDK covered by a EULA so restrictive that it looks like internal business applications will not be able to be distributed to the iPhone. Business users, already heavily favoring Microsoft, may continue to be shut out by a company that should probably be opening their products up to new users rather than by shutting them out. Do you think Apple's handling of their SDK has been appropriate?

kingttx
kingttx

I am watching Openmoko, which has just recently opened their hardware by posting the CAD drawings on their website. They've already released all of the phone software API (under GPL if I'm not mistaken), and they should have a consumer release some time in May or June. If it lives up to the hype, that'll be my next phone.

Aragorn_z
Aragorn_z

Most smartphone users I know enjoy the way you can customize your phone. I use the Palm Centro, and if you power my phone on it no longer looks anything like when I purchased it. This is because I've added a 3rd party launcher (Launcher X). I have tons of programs added too. Games, utilities, multimedia programs, book readers, etc. This is one of the draws of the Palm OS for me. I know WinMo devices are also highly customizable. Business users and home users alike need the option to make their phone more useful to their needs. I understand Apple doesn't want junkie programs causing their phone to become unstable, but surely they can find a better middle ground, and allow for more open development.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The size of the casing just seems right, it's not limited by a static input area, the screen covers most of the face. "drive mode" to connect it as a flashdrive or SDIO card reader is brilliant. The lifedrive has platters, the TX lacks functions and is a hardware step down and everything else has a fixed input area or half a screen with button pads. The lack of sync software for my OS and need for a better screen to read PDF off eventually broke me from the brand. They stumbled over further development and the new treo design is not for me. It's great for others though and the new Centro is very pretty. I still keep my T5 in my toolbag due to some bluetooth auditing tools I've yet to find replacements for and luckily my N800 has a PalmOS emulator for any other apps I keep around like convert-it (thanks again Access). Palm does a good job of the hardware for what it's meant to do and you can't beat the software selection available. If they'd put some development into cross platform sync software and did an update too the T5 (including the "drive mode" function back in and new OS).

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