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FTC Cracks Down on Apple Karishma Sundaram | , 2:27 p.m. Aug. 1, 2009 2009-08-01

Everyone knows that Apple has hitherto maintained a tight-fisted control on the applications that can be installed on the iPhone. The story up to this point has seen Apple first allowing developers to upload their applications on the Apple App Store, but a few months ago this policy changed. The new policy declared that there would be a more stringent approval process for iPhone apps. Quite a few of the existing applications were given the short shrift, some with a legitimate reason like the Japanese emoticon, Emoji, issue. 

Apple has always justified this control by holding up security up as a scapegoat. How far this is accurate, or whether it is merely a means of masking truer motives, has not been called into question. There was an unvoiced suspicion murmured that Apple chose to control applications so as not to lose out in any way from the profits gained in application development. If the latter is true, it smacks a little of monopolies and unfair practices, and that is what has come crashing down on Apple now. 

Earlier this month Apple rejected a program Google had created to connect to its existing Google Voice application. Additionally, it decided to terminate two existing Google products from the App Store. This particular move created a near uproar, changing the Apple iPhone’s image from a coveted desirable and popular device, to one that is subject to the passing whims and changing fancies of the manufacturer. And because of this unprecedented move, Apple is now under scrutiny from the FTC. 

The Federal Trade Commission has launched a probe into Apple’s dealings, investigating for unfair competition. The spotlight has been trained on Apple because of the strange manoeuvres with Google. Until very recently, Google’s head honcho Eric Schmidt was also on the Apple board. While this wasn’t a major issue when Google focused primarily on Internet services and applications, the playing field has changed altogether with the advent of Android. The Android has a significant advantage because it is a Google product, therefore the integration with already popular Google products is bound to be excellent. Just as Google itself is a factor with the Android, the iPhone has undisputed popularity in the cell phone market. 

If both the giants are working together, the suspicion of unfair competition then arises. Possibly in an effort to stem the tide of the probe, Eric Schmidt resigned from the Apple board. The move was made under the pretext of conflicting interests. The FTC, however, is continuing with their investigation. There is another board member who sits on both boards, and perhaps that is why the FTC has decided to finish what they started. 

They are now also demanding reasons from Apple as to why there are so many controls on third party iPhone applications. Apple has come up with an unconvincing argument that a jail broken phone can be potentially harmful to not only a particular area but the entire AT&T network. The argument is considered preposterous by industry experts, however it remains to be seen how the chips fall in this particular controversy.

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