Apple to meet with Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes over alleged unfairness of FairPlay

Summary:While US antitrust officials seem content to let Apple's growing monopoly grow, several European countries appear less willing to let Apple so easily steamroll their consumers.  France correctly spotted the potential market dangers of Apple's growing share, drafted a law, and then removed that law's most important teeth in what is pretty much a joke in antitrust intervention.

While US antitrust officials seem content to let Apple's growing monopoly grow, several European countries appear less willing to let Apple so easily steamroll their consumers.  France correctly spotted the potential market dangers of Apple's growing share, drafted a law, and then removed that law's most important teeth in what is pretty much a joke in antitrust intervention.  But in Norway, Apple's implementation already violates that country's laws.  And two other Scandinavian countries -- Sweden and Denmark -- are also concerned about the degree to which Apple' digital rights management (DRM) technology known as FairPlay affords the  Cupertino, CA company an opportunity for nearly unimpeded market domination.  Now, Apple has agreed to a meetup with the Scandis.  According to BetaNews:

Apple will meet with representatives of consumer rights groups from Sweden, Norway and Denmark to discuss concerns over the closed nature of iTunes, an executive with Sweden's consumer rights agency told Reuters on Wednesday. The meeting is expected to take place sometime in September, although no solid date has been set....The Cupertino, Calif. company has responded to concerns voiced by the groups, but has also requested that the sides meet in person. Apple reportedly wants to explain its position, and likely why it intends to keep the iTunes Music Store an iPod-only service.

Let's see. Could that be because every time a song or video is sold through the iTunes Music Store, the buyers of those songs or videos will have no choice but to either own iPods and iTunes software for the rest of their lives or throw away their investment in content? You see? That growing "installed-base" of iPod only content is what is securing Apple's future. Quite franky, it's a great plan -- an amazing plan actually -- if no one (or no country) is prepared to stop the company.

Question: What happens if Apple's dominance of portable entertainment (and the entertainment industries themselves) gets so big that it decides it doesn't want to make a Windows version of iTunes anymore? There's no Linux version.  As Apple's technology becomes more deeply entrenched in the entertainment infrastructure and as that entertainment infrastructure becomes more integral to desktop/mobile computing and the Internet, desktop Linux remains an outsider that's being completely marginalized. Call me crazy, but, once Apple's share gets to a certain point, Apple could easily seek to marginalize Windows in the same way. The company already told the record labels where to stick it when the record labels asked for variable pricing. Realizing how powerful Apple is, the record labels buckled.  We're talking about a company that's issuing cease-and-desist letters to small single-person and family-run businesses because of their use of the word "pod" in their product names.  Is there any doubt to how ruthless and predatory Apple can get?

The story continues:

In Norway, two aspects of Apple's position are technically illegal in the country...Norway had threatened to take the company to court if it did not comply with requests.

So, Norway is the one with the existing laws in place and the Swedes and Danes are apparently tagging along from a "consumer activisim" point of view.  At least for now. It'll be interesting to see if these Scandinavian countries can shake something loose from the Apple tree that can ripple around the world or, if they'll just end up where France did -- with a watered down resolution that basically allows Apple to maintain and grow its global monopoly.

Topics: Apple

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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