Apple Gets a Harder Look on Antitrust

Apparently, Apple is now under antitrust scrutiny for its licensing agreements with iPhone app developers.  Those developers--and competitors--are complaining that Apple has recently changed its licensing agreement to forbid using non-Apple software tools to build applications, as well as banning the transmission of data that could help third parties run targeted ads.  That would, of course, give a huge edge to Apples new iAd system.

In other words, Apple is using its dominant market position in mobile devices to boost other Apple products . . . exactly the complaint that was levied against Apple competitor Microsoft ten years ago.   Apple was a fairly significant beneficiary of those antitrust suits; even though they never really went anywhere, Microsoft played a lot less hardball than it could have, because it looked better to have a modest competitor in the OS market than no competitor at all.

There was a tendency at the time to moralize the characters in this drama--Microsoft was the Evil Empire, which sort of naturally made Apple and Netscape and Sun into the Rebel Alliance.  But as with so many revolutions, the rebels weren't really fighting against monopoly power; they just wanted to exercise that power themselves.

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