In a blog post on Tuesday, the former secretary of labor wonders why the Federal Trade Commission is reportedly threatening Apple with a possible lawsuit when it's doing nothing about the threats to the entire economy posed by giant banks. Reich says there's plenty of competition for consumers.
Apple’s supposed sin was to tell software developers that if they want to make apps for iPhones and iPads they have to use Apple programming tools. No more outside tools (like Adobe’s Flash format) that can run on rival devices like Google’s Android phones and RIM’s BlackBerrys.
What’s wrong with that? Apple says it’s necessary to maintain quality. If consumers disagree they can buy platforms elsewhere. Apple was the world’s #3 smartphone supplier in 2009, with 16.2 percent of worldwide market share. RIM was #2, with 18.8 percent. Google isn’t exactly a wallflower. These and other firms are innovating like mad, as are tens of thousands of independent developers. If Apple’s decision reduces the number of future apps that can run on its products, Apple will suffer and presumably change its mind.
Reich says that the Federal Trade Commission Act "allows the agency to stop “unfair methods of competition” almost anywhere in the economy except in the financial sector. Banks are explicitly excluded."
Hands off Apple. But cut the big banks down to size.
By the way, if you look at the latest figures on smartphone browser usage from NetMarketShare, the biggest growth is with Jave Micro Edition: Zero percent in 2008 and 0.79 percent last month. Apple's iPhone browser was 0.07 in 2008 and 0.53 last month.