back to article Apple not yet dominant enough for anti-trust action

Apple is rapidly becoming an anti-trust target and right now it is behaving like a badly spoiled child with respect to what it will allow and not allow on any of its platforms. This is reflected in decisions to keep Adobe and any other development environment off its devices, and more recently in its proposed new developer terms …

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Anonymous Coward

Nice one ...

... conclusive evidence that Apple have not taken over the world, contrary to the drooling idiocy of some of their most ardent consumers.

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Did you read the same article?

It is an opinion. Nothing conclusive about it. notice the "We don't think" at the start of the last paragraph? And also the big bold black writing on the article OPINION?

Some reading skills may help. It was interesting but there is a lot in the article to disagree with. I think some of their assumptions are way off.

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Jobs Horns

Not the world

But they certainly seem to have taken over the media. The amount of free advertising for Apple products is unbelievable. Just as an example - if Apple have 20% of X market then they seem to get 80% of the media coverage of that market.

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Reason:

Journalist discount.

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@rag-wrath

Yes, an opinion by someone more expert than those spewing their uneducated and biased drivel around to the contrary.

And don't even get me started about all the arrogant offensive twats on here.

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Jobs Halo

Nice one ...

... conclusive evidence that Apple have not taken over the world, contrary to the drooling idiocy of some of their most ardent critics.

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@AC re: Not the world

Hmmmmm. You promote the very thing you decry. By that I mean, stop reading the articles and commenting on them and journalists will stop writing them. You are to blame for the problem you are complaining about.

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WTF?

RE: Not the world

I can't remember the last time I saw an advert for an Apple product. No wait. I can.

It was for an iPhone and it was about 3 weeks ago.

They've hardly taken over the media. There are an unnecessarily large number of articles about them here at El Reg. Someone has to give the haters something to grumble about though. Otherwise they'd be reduced to walking around muttering "humbug" to themselves.

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RE: Nice one ...

"... conclusive evidence that Apple have not taken over the world, contrary to the drooling idiocy of some of their most ardent consumers."

Either that or conclusive evidence that Apple have not taken over the world, contrary to the drooling idiocy of those who have been blathering (seemingly forever) about how terrible they are all over every El Reg forum.

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It doesn't work like that…

Android gets far more coverage than it deserves on the register proportional to its market share (especially in the UK).

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Pint

Yeah, lots of free advertsing!

They not be taking over the advertising media as such, but their products certainly get a lot of free airtime on US TV. The number of times I have seen white laptops appear in TV shows with the apple badge covered over. I think it was some kid's show they deliberately put a picture of a "pear" over the glowing fruit logo!

Anyone see the Boots advert for online perscriptions hanging the window of every Boots shop, the laptop is white and obviously a 13" Macbook, once again Apple logos covered!

Apple are very clever at making a product that fits rather too snugly into most ad campaigns for my liking!

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Jobs Horns

It's not the advertising

Yes the iphone ads have stopped, but that is because the iphone 4 is about to be launched. At the minute it's all ipad - 'it's magical'. Just wait until the iphone 4 launches and it will seem like every ad break has an Apple advert.

They pay for that, its entirely up to them how much they want to spend on marketing - they do bombard you with ads when they have a new product, fair enough but just look at how many articles there are on here, the BBC, Sky, ITV, Techcrunch, Toms, Cnet etc etc every single time Apple have a product coming out, or just because Steve jobs sneezes. You get articles for months in advance and then when it launches every second article seems to be about it. It wouldn't matter if a different company came up with a product that truly was revolutionary, chances are you would get an announcement that something was going to be launched and then a single review once it had been and as all the fanbois are so fond of reminding us on here Apple only have a very small market share. It's completely disproportional.

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If they do probe over iAd

Then the net should go wider than just the iPlatform advertising. If you were looking at a choice between two online ad companies, one that covered 90% of the population and one that covered 100% with the extra 10% being technology magpies with more money than sense. Then using the company with 100% coverage makes more sense and will have an impact far wider than companies not being able to advertise inside a small walled garden.

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Anonymous Coward

Not dominant, and never will be

Apple will never appeal to the entire market, primarily because they aren't trying to. For example, it's possible to find cheaper kit than Apple's, but they aren't trying to compete in the 'cheap' market. For those who want 'cheap' above all else, there are suppliers who will provide what you're looking for.

Most people using iWhatever don't care if you can't install apps through other outlets because they get such incredible, simple, reliable service through Apple's system. For those with the time, ability, and inclination to do otherwise, there are companies that will provide.

To that end, it isn't acting "like a spoiled child" - it has worked hard to delineate and understand its target market and acted to meet its customer's needs. This won't please everyone, but they aren't trying to. This is simply good business.

Microsoft seems moribund simply because, having crushed the desktop OS and office software markets and lacking the internal culture to innovate, it has nowhere else to go. The antitrust measures taken against it simply ensure that it doesn't leverage its existing monopolies to crush others.

The company that should be worried about antitrust measures is Google. It has a dangerous monopoly on search, which could easily be turned against other markets if it also moves into sales.

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Re: Not dominant, and never will be

That's one of the limitations of anti-trust law.

It doesn't matter if a corp is behaving badly until it has monopoly status. The reality is that an entity with < 50% market share can still do a great deal of harm to smaller competitors such that they cannot effectively compete. Walmart, though not a monopoly, is still able to abuse it's competition.

The situation gets worse if there is an oligopoly of anti-competitive companies with near total market share, since separately they are untouchable with anti-trust.

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Jobs Horns

Even if not dominant, they may fall under the Antitrust Eye

Under USA antitrust law you can land in hot water for anticompetitive behavior even if you don't have more than 50% of the market. Initiatives to actively harm the competition also count, such as inopinately changing the rules you impose for other to access your markets, producs or services , cherrypicking concurrents to markets you create, blocking technologies not because you don't need them, but provably to harm a competitor, altering protocols to lock out the competition, lying about the competition, etc.

Many things Apple is doing (I don't say they've done ALL of the former) may warrant a deep look by the antitrust commision. Now, they may be guilty, or not, but maybe soon that will have to be decided.

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Linux

@Ralph 5

You say tomato, I say tomato. Hmmmm, that doesn't work so well written down, does it?

Spoilt child it is. Petulance and throwing of toys. Of course, a certain segment of the market actually likes that, so it's fair enough as a marketing strategy, but not for me, thanks.

GJC

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, well...

" Apple is rapidly becoming an anti-trust target and right now it is behaving like a badly spoiled child with respect to what it will allow and not allow on any of its platforms."

It's called competition, so get used to it. Google is competing directly with the iPhone, yet somehow Apple should allow them complete access to the iPhone so they can continue to rake in the dosh. Talk about a unilaterally parasitic relationship.

As for Adobe, what company would want this slouch of a company on their high-priced handsets? Me-toos and Meego's maybe, but Adobe has yet to show a version of Flash that'll work well on a mobile. Having a Ghz minimum requirement for some online videos does not bode well. Andeven should they be able to produce such a magical beast, it will take developers months if not years to optimise their sites for touch, so why even bother? If you're going to code for touch, do it with open tech so it'll be available to all platforms.

No site today can afford to shut out 100 million iOS users.

But yet somehow Apple is acting like a spoiled child.

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Letters and digits (are required in the title)

So, by following your logic, Google should have the right to deny access to anything Apple-related to their services?

So, no Gmail, Google search, Google Books, Google reader, Google maps...

Hell, why not push it further and refuse access to "invisible" services that Google provides, or embedded within apps/programs/features/websites? How well would all those iPad RSS readers work without FeedBurner? How would all those nice apps feel if they had to be re-developed to embed Bing maps or Mapquest?

In fact, Google could push it to the limit and say that they'll not display ads on websites that are displayed on iDevices or Safari. Since websites use DoubleClick to generate revenue, they could just put in the Terms of Service that using DoubleClick on your website allows the advertising spec. to bring up a pop-up promoting Chrome/Android (or refuse to load the page) if Google judges that the device or program in question is affiliated with a competitor.

See where this is going? There's a good reason why you're not allowed to completely shut out your competitors. If you're a monopoly, you're obliged to produce services that can be relied upon by other companies (see Microsoft getting in hot water for not producing interoperability specs in 2004). If you're not a monopoly, you're obliged to let your customers benefit from the choice of vendor and services they can expect (see the automobile industry spare parts market, where it's illegal to not publish replacement part specs, and to not honor honor a warranty because the spare parts used were not those of the vehicle manufacturer).

Apple wants to enter the advertising game (which is a good move, since Google's position has become somewhat too dominant), but that doesn't give them the right to just ban Google from competing on their devices. It's as if you had a car manufacturer that says "all auto parts corresponding to the published specs installed by certified mechanics will be covered by warranty, except if the company that makes the spare parts also makes spare parts for other companies' cars, or if the mechanic also works on other companies' cars". Neither of the involved needs to be dominant in their industry for it to be illegal.

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Jobs Horns

Court case unnecessary

Simple economics will do. Already stated in the the article that iphone does not dominate the market on equipment numbers. How many developers want to continue to develop on a closed platform with 1/8 of the market vs. developing on a platform that is supported by the other 7/8s of the market? The iphone dominated when it had the first "popular" incarnation of apps and a market place but now that it is being replicated the iphone has lost its edge and its market share will follow.

Had Apple not locked the phone into specific networks and not locked down the development of apps I think they would have had a much larger piece of the market and would be much harder to compete with. Stanglehold control has damaged the product.

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@Trockair

"Stanglehold control has damaged the product."

Who says it's a numbers game. Apple isn''t playing that game, that's a game dominated by companies like Dell and Gateway (to name just 2). Damaged the product? No.

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"Stanglehold control has damaged the product." - Really?

"Stanglehold control has damaged the product."

The same stranglehold that lets them sell 600,000 handsets in the first 24 hours before anyone (outside a few of the press) has even had hands-on time with said handset?

Has it not occurred to you that perhaps the (fairly reasonable, tbh) restrictions that are in place in the iPhone/iPad world are actually there to provide the experience that Apple's target market really wants? Guess what, if you can't get on with the iPhone because it has x restriction in place that attempts to guarantee a seamless experience then you probably aren't part of that market.

The iPhone has been the first series of phones that truly unifies the smartphone experience. Before the iPhone there was huge fragmentation between handsets, OS', and operators that made being able to use a smartphone to it's full potential almost impossible for the average guy/gal on the street. If it wasn't for Apple's "restrictive" policies then it would have been much harder for such a platform to develop.

We need to try and think outside our little bubble now and then, the world is a much larger place and the IT/power users that may actually care about such policies and restrictions is minuscule in comparison to that which the iPhone caters for.

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RE: Court case unnecessary

"How many developers want to continue to develop on a closed platform with 1/8 of the market vs. developing on a platform that is supported by the other 7/8s of the market?"

Which is this miraculous platform that is on 7/8ths of the world's mobiles then?

"Had Apple not locked the phone into specific networks and not locked down the development of apps I think they would have had a much larger piece of the market and would be much harder to compete with."

The phone is no longer locked to any network (at least not in the UK) and it's always been possible to buy one second hand and put in a SIM from whatever network you choose...

Apple don't seem to have locked down the development of apps either. There are some restrictions but go and have a look at them - you won't find any that are going to prevent you making apps.

btw. Their phone is already pretty hard to compete with... having used one, I won't be going back to the rubbish I used to buy from Motorola.

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FAIL

Tell me..

**behaving like a badly spoiled child with respect to what it will allow and not allow on any of its platforms.**

...did you pay *any* attention in class today?

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Jobs Horns

Its Ironic...

that the very same petulant behavior that is preventing Apple making greater market gains is keeping Mr Jobs safe from being punished for it.

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RE: Its Ironic

"that the very same petulant behavior that is preventing Apple making greater market gains is keeping Mr Jobs safe from being punished for it."

Speculation, groundless speculation - unless of course, you're an expert market analyst and can back that up with figures?

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Headmaster

RE: Its Ironic...

I'll bet Jobs can spell "It's" properly.

If Jobs was really "petulant" and this was hindering the company, the shareholders would have him out.

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"You can’t imagine someone bringing an anti-trust suit for print drivers."

Richard Stallman and the Xerox 9700?

Alright, he didn't exactly start an antitrust case, but he hasn't shut up about it, since, either.

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@Mr Brush

"behavior that is preventing Apple making greater market gains"

How are they being prevented? Their year over year increases in sales in computers have been double the industry rate. iPods have a huge percentage of the market. iPhone growth has been explosive, and based on the interest in pre-orders for iPhone 4 it continues to grow. iPad has leaped off to stellar sales numbers so far.

Apple is making great market gains and the share price and financial health of the company are reflecting that fact. Simple fact is they haven't done anything illegal and THAT is why they won't get punished for it. All of this clamor is from competitors who are realizing the tables are turning on them and they are hoping government intervention will bail them out.

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Futuristic

Call me in 10 years when you've been burned horribly, I'll have the worlds smallest open source violin playing a sad song just for you.

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Alert

RE: Futuristic

It's going to have to be a pretty special computer to still be in use in 10 years time...

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not the law that matters

It may be true that it would be difficult to prove that Apple holds any kind of monopoly power. An exception would be monopoly power on Apple compatible PCs and Phone. And yes, they can be proven to be separate markets for antitrust purposes. Not yet perhaps. The Psystar case lost primarily because Psystar was violating copyright laws. And a antitrust argument is not a defense against that regardless of what they did.

But, the real problem is that antitrust authorities simply do not care to enforce antitrust law.

You can make up stories about antitrust has changed Microsoft but Microsoft still illegally bundles IE with the OS. And, yes, the US Appellate Court decided that commingling code between the OS and IE was in fact illegal. But, the stupid US DOJ acted to make sure that the illegal acts continued unabated. And today IE is still illegally commingled with OS code. (Not once did Microsoft uncommingle the code).

Then along comes the EU Commission and they do nothing either.

Sure, there is a ballot screen but IE remains a forced purchase by anyone foolish enough to use any Microsoft product. And that illegal act precludes any possibility of a fair and open market for browsers ever. Not until the OS monopoly goes away can any fair and open market exist.

So if you have two antitrust authorities so stupid so as not to even understand what they do and then fail completely to stop Microsoft's illegal conduct, there is no doubt that Apple will engage in illegal activities as well. Apple lawyers know that antitrust authorities can simply be bought. Or, persuaded politically. However you want to describe the complete failure to block Microsoft from forcing the sale of IE upon everyone in the marketplace.

And yes, you can argue that Apple does not even have monopoly power. Yet, anyway. They do in Apple PCs. PCs that run the Apple OS. That is a monopoly.

The question remains how effective such power actually is.

If Apple blocks Google ads on the iProducts, those products lose value. As stated in the article, the Android OS is ready to serve as a ready substitute for the Apple OS on phones. And that is likely to be the result. And the more arrogant Apple appears the quicker Android will take over the marketplace. I doubt that any technology alone is going to be significant enough to maintain the market power Apple thinks it has. As the ads say, without restrictions, droid does.

It is really sad it see ignorant antitrust authorities in the US and the EU. Pure stupidity on their part. It encourages not only Microsoft to continue illegal practics but also tells Apple that the authorities are just not relevant. And they are not. Microsoft continues to forced sale of IE upon everyone. And there is no developer anywhere on the planet that can not understand what those forced sales might mean to their code. NOBODY can be so stupid not to understand that.

Got a product to sell? Get a monopolist to force everyone to buy it. No problem. No marketing required. No intelligence either. In the product or the marketing. Just force all of the idiots to buy it. If you have a copy of IE anyway, you are an idiot. You paid cash money for IE and your opinion simply does not matter.

What a job if you can get it? Just force all the idiots to pay cash for your product. And all of the idiots do precisely that. Cash goes out. IE shows up.

You can blame Apple for seeing the obvious. Authorites do nothing if you can buy them off.

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@Lewis Mettler

"but Microsoft still illegally bundles IE with the OS"

How is this illegal in today's networked world? An OS without a browser is useless. For the end user the browser is more or less the OS nowadays. That's why Google is working on Chrome and Chrome OS. MS don't prevent you from installing other software. They don't prevent you from installing Google search which uses Google's Ad system do they? Apple does.

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Grenade

"Illegal" browsers

So I guess it is equally illegal for Apple to bundle Safari into OSX, then?

C'mon, get with the programme. This is the 21st Century, browsers as a free OS tool are a fact of life. But then, if you accepted that, you wouldn't have anything to whine about with Microsoft, would you? Retard.

GJC

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This post has been deleted by its author

Flame

"Apple does."

"MS don't prevent you from installing other software. They don't prevent you from installing Google search which uses Google's Ad system do they?" Let's wait and see until there ne mobile OS is out, shall we? Oh! Your talking about desktops! Then my friend you are talking out of your arse. No they don't. Stop with the idiotic FUD. There are several browsers available for the Mac OS (in fact pretty much all the ones that are available for Windows, except for IE which is ONLY available for Windows; are Microsoft being restrictive?). The issue with Internet Explorer was that Microsoft had embedded it so deep into the OS that it couldn't be fully removed. Want to get rid of Safari completely on a Mac? Drag it into the trash, go to the Finder menu a select 'Secure Empty Trash...' and it's gone forever. Couldn't do that with Windows and that is how they *put another company* out of business. THAT was the issue. Fuckwit.

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I just wannna say...

...Nice article. Thanks.

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In Summary

Everyone scroll back up and re-read Ralph 5's comment, please.

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FAIL

Market

Again. Apple produces an SDK and toolkit for 3rd party companies to compete in the software market for iPhones. It exercises 100% monopoly control on the supply of this 3rd-party software in an arbitary and abusive fashion. When it allowed 3rd-party development for the platform it created a market which it abuses.

String 'em up.

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Stop

What, just like

Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo produce SDKs and toolkits for their games platforms for 3rd parties to produce competing games, and then exercise 100% monopoly control over the titles that are licensed and published? You don't honestly think that anyone can just wander along and cut a game disk do you?

Apple's iOS platform is for appliances, not general purpose computing machines. It is explicitly closed for good reasons, and there are plenty of alternative platforms if you don't like it. You don't get in trouble for having 100% control over your own platform, you get in trouble for having a platform that dominates the market and using that position to exert unreasonable control over the rest of the market.

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FAIL

No not just like..

Although Sony, MS et all have some ridiculous policies, and it's hideously expensive for example ($10,000+) to get a dev kit for the PS3 etc, these policies don't include allowing you to develop an app then stop you from selling it through the only channel available.

And yes, just anyone can wander along and cut a game disc and sell it how they like, notwithstanding the costs of entry.

Anti-trust law doesn't give a monkeys about what iOS is or isn't for. The market is software not appliances, the very existence of an "app store" should be a dead giveaway that this is a "general purpose computing device" anyway. you can't have your straw-men both ways

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@Bee Hive

Turn the world around to suit your argument. You've got to be kidding. App store makes the device (which is Apple's by the fucking way) general purpose computing. Well, in that case PS3 games are merely applications that run on a games console, so the PS3 is a general computing device, therefore they are are a monopoly, therefore I have no choice in games, therefore anti-trust law must support this idiotic logic you are spouting and close Sony altogether.

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That's right

Play the man, not the ball, Anonymous.

"general purpose computing?" - There's an app for that.

Dissemble all you want, the device isn't Apple's - it's the consumers, Sony don't monopolise the market in PS3 applications, in fact up till recently you could run an "OtherOS" on a PS3 - removing it was also a shitty decision. Punt your retarded, fawning, obsequious Apple crap to someone who gives a shit.

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Yep

This article makes all the points I've been saying.

Apple are anti-competitive and over-controlling, which severely limits both 3rd party developers and users in terms of what they can do on closed platforms. But apple's behavior doesn't become illegal until they have a monopoly.

The balance between open and closed platforms is always at risk; if people don't stand up and invest in open platforms, then they will soon fall under corporate control.

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@Lou Gosselin

"This article makes all the points I've been saying."

Who care what you've been saying, we don't go to lougosselin.co.uk to read your articles, do we?

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@AC

You cared enough to comment.

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Important Point Left Out

it is not necessary to be a monopoly in order to act in restraint of trade and to be engaged in anti-competitive behavior. I would be interested in seeing the author address this point.

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Re: Important Point Left Out

The author does not need to address this point because it is out of the scope of the article. The topic of the article is not what is anti-competitive behaviour or how it can be discerned, but how Apple is not a monopoly as some regard it. It is specifically addressing the point that normally legal behaviour *may* be illegal when a company is dominant, and explaining why this does not apply to Apple.

In other words, Apple is not violating anti-trust laws because it has not reached monopoly status. It is granted that the behaviour we are discussing is normally legal behaviour for dominant companies.

>> "its App Store also cannot be considered dominant, because it’s a relatively new idea, so the market has not had time to settle down. Market dominance is impossible to prove in a new market. You could claim that Apple has dominance in the intelligent tablet market with the iPad. But that’s just because no one has had a chance to market anything against it yet."

>> "if Apple does fairly obnoxious things to keep rivals out of its App Store and off its phones, then that will only have the effect of upsetting a number of developers, some of them rivals. It is fair competitiveness and at worst is short sighted."

-dZ.

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Banned?

Have I been banned? My messages to this forum do not seem to appear. I wonder what I have done.

-dZ.

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