Reports state that the US Federal Trade Commission and the US Department of Justice will be starting antitrust proceedings against Apple for anti-competitive practices. Hoping to slow down its competitors, Apple’s recently filed a bevy of lawsuits against HTC, the largest manufacturer of Android phones.
It has also taken a vocally anti-Flash stance and the government seems to believe this is abusing their position as a market leader.
To be honest, it’s about damn time.
I am an Apple fan. I have been since I bought my first iPod. Apple has held these annoying policies as long as I’ve used Apple products. While they’ve helped net Apple a ton of market share, they’ve also come across as strong-armed tactics. While it wasn’t too annoying if Apple neglected a standard when they only has a small fraction of the market, they now command a sizeable enough market-share to screw things up if they see fit.
I manage a network of iMac computers across ten buildings and it’s been bad enough as it is. Apple devices, especially when paired with non-Apple wireless networking devices, are very finicky at best. When Apple makes its planned move away from Flash, trying to drag the rest of the world along with it kicking and screaming, I know for a fact that I’m going to get nothing but complaints from the people I support.
Sure, Flash is buggy. Its problems aren’t limited to Mac, either. But at the moment, HTML5 is not ready to take its place as a format. Nor is H.264. Flash is endemic across the internet and even if Apple decides they’re not interested in supporting it, it’s not something that will vanish overnight.
More irritatingly, however, has been Apple’s heavy-handed anti-competitive policies in the mobile arena. Apple is lucky enough to own a few incredibly vague, broad patents, which make it incredibly difficult to innovate in the field of smartphones. Android was incredibly reluctant to include any multitouch in the earliest flavors of Android, lest Apple file an angry lawsuit against them.
Indeed, Apple recently filed a couple of lawsuits against HTC, alleging more than 20 infringements of patents as vague as “Object-Oriented Graphic Systems,” “Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image,” and other similar patents. These lawsuits have essentially been aimed at Android, using HTC as nothing but a proxy. It’s just a very ham-fisted way of trying to limit competition.
Finally, Apple’s recent behavior concerning the iPhone leak has been outrageously heavy-handed. Sure, it appeared like Apple had let the controversy go and that they’d done something uncharacteristically generous. Then, Jason Chen’s house was broken into (yes, it was a break-in because the cops had an invalid warrant). The damage had already been done, and Apple stood to gain nothing for trying to rage-kill the guy that found the phone, and yet they did it anyways.
In short, Apple’s been on an ego trip lately. Funnily enough, Apple’s recent behavior smacks of the fuss and bluster that Microsoft had exhibited before the United States v. Microsoft case. In fact, some of the charges levied against Microsoft in that Anti-trust suit could easily be applied to Apple in this case. But more importantly, it’s about time for someone to take Steve Jobs down a peg. An Anti-trust suit might be the only way to puncture his ego.