Tech giant Apple could face an antitrust probe from industry regulators for restricting developers from using the Adobe Flash software plugin for app development on any of its devices.
However, new reports claim the beginning of an investigation may have been sparked by Adobe itself, which has been said to have contacted regulators about Apple’s closed policies.
As reported by the New York Post, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are currently deciding which department will launch the inquiry. The target is Apple’s policy, released last month, which forces developers to only use specific Apple tools to create apps on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
Adobe, which creates the Flash plugin, has said this policy is unfair and extremely restrictive to developers who often use different technologies to create apps, and Apple must allow programmers to use Adobe’s tools.
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According “to a person familiar with the matter”, regulators are just days away from launching an inquiry which will determine whether Apple’s policy kills competition in the development sector.
Adobe and Apple have been publically sparring over the past few weeks regarding the new policy. Adobe principal product manager for developer relations, Mike Chambers, said in a statement Apple is being unreasonable.
“However, [openness] is the exact opposite of what Apple wants. They want to tie developers down to their platform, and restrict their options to make it difficult for developers to target other platforms.”
But Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has hit back, saying Flash is lagging behind current software and the company’s plugin is the main cause for crashes on Mac computers.
“Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content,” Jobs said in the open letter, posted on Apple’s website. He also said the plugin creates “technical drawbacks”.
“Another Adobe claim is that Apple devices cannot play Flash games. This is true. Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free.”
Some critics have attacked Apple for excluding the Flash platform, saying web-browsing on the company’s devices is limited because many sites use the plugin for graphics and advertising. However, Jobs is pushing the HTML5 platform as an alternative, and is encouraging major sites to take-up the new web protocols.
But according to a new report from Bloomberg, the original complaint regarding Apple’s accused anti-competitive behaviour was actually filed by Adobe itself, according to industry sources.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last month, Adobe chief executive Shantanu Narayen said Apple’s recent behaviour is cause for concern, and it needs to be addressed.
“The world is emerging where there are multiple devices that people are using to access the internet and our customers continue to tell us they’d love to have a way in which they can get their content, their brand across multiple devices,” Narayen said.