Is Apple now abusing its iPhone/App Store market position?

Is Apple now abusing its iPhone/App Store market position?

Summary: An interesting story posted up on TechDirt suggests that Apple is abusing the power it wields by having created the iPhone/App Store ecosystem.

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An interesting story posted up on TechDirt suggests that Apple is abusing the power it wields by having created the iPhone/App Store ecosystem.

The story revolves around Apple's decision to block Google's location-tracking service called Latitude from the iPhone while at the same time trying to patent a similar technology.

Now, the question as to who developed the app first and whether Apple's patent application is valid is up to bureaucracy and possibly the court system to decide, but the way that Apple seems to be leveraging the App Store approval policy to gain the upper hand on competitors is certain to raise a few eyebrows.

I say "seems too be leveraging" because it's hard to know the ins and outs of the story. Google launched Latitude back in February 2009, while Apple's patent application was filed back in June 2008. Also, it's hard to know what level of privilege those approving or denying apps have. Are apps supplied by big hitters such as Google looked at by the same folks that wade through the fart machines and notebook apps, or do they undergo more (or less) scrutiny?

Another issue here is how long can Apple play the "duplicates functionality" card to keep rejecting apps without that becoming a monopoly monkey on the company's back? While some small "at home" developer, or even a small to medium sized dev house might not have the power to mount an assault on Apple, a big hitter such as Google sure does.

Some else to keep an eye on in 2010.

Topics: Apple, Google, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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120 comments
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  • Probably nothing illegal about it

    [i]Apple seems to be leveraging the App Store
    approval policy to gain the upper hand on
    competitors is certain to raise a few
    eyebrows.[/i]

    But as an app developer, I would [b]never[/b]
    release any sort of application for the App
    Store knowing that Apple would just turn around
    and steal it from me. Google is learning first
    hand just how backstabbing a "partner" Apple
    is.
    NonZealot
    • With 3 Billion downloads

      I doubt if Apple will miss you.

      But I'd bet that Palm would love to talk to you, girl. Check in with them.

      For the open minded it's pretty obvious that Apple is doing what Apple
      wants to do. Some companies and/or developers will work with them
      and do pretty well. Others prefer the warm & fuzzy feelings you get
      when you work with, say, MS.
      Ken_z
      • Ignoring the troll bait

        Do you seriously think this is any different than the many anti trust cases against MS?

        Its worse than thrying to force MSN on people in windows 95, far worse than bundling works or office (or even Internet explorer).

        Ask yourself this if MS made the iphone would they be allowed to do this? the answer is almost certainly no as it the situation with the ipod.
        jdbukis@...
      • Whats this have to do with MS

        Oh yeah, the "it's OK to steal $20 because someone else stole $2000." defense.

        Guess that makes it OK now.
        John Zern
        • DEFLECT!!!!

          You can tell when an Apple apologist is feeling
          defensive because their immediate reaction is to
          introduce MS to any topic.
          NonZealot
          • @NonZealot

            No, that's because almost everybody on ZDNet knows your anti-everything that don't come from Redmond WA, and know that you conveniently ignore the fact the Microsoft has been found guilty in a court of law doing the same thing and pretent Apple is the only company in the world that would stoop that low. We just like to remind you of your hypocrisy and you make it as easy as shooting ducks in a pond.
            Axsimulate
          • Links please!!

            [i]pretent Apple is the only company in the world
            that would stoop that low[/i]

            Where did I do this?
            NonZealot
          • @NonZealot

            Every post you make about Apple implies they are evil and MS is good, don't try and deny it.
            Axsimulate
          • Re; @NonZealot

            [i]Every post you make about Apple implies they are evil and MS is good, don't try and deny it. [/i]

            I don't know about his other posts, but this one seems to state the obvious, which is that Apple is doing the same things that MS did in the past, which led to the Justice Dept. suits against MS.

            Regardless, it's pretty clear that Apple is guilty of some anti-competitive activities. However, it would appear that their limited market share protects them on that front. If the iPhone ever becomes the dominant Mobile platform (or if justice somehow combines DAPs with the iPhone, then maybe things will change).

            Personally, i think Apple is about as MS was 15+ years ago.
            notsofast
          • Are you sure about that?

            [i]"I don't know about his other posts, but this one seems to state the
            obvious, which is that Apple is doing the same things that MS did in
            the past, which led to the Justice Dept. suits against MS.[/i]
            Let's see. One of those was about bundling IE with the OS--that
            seems to be the most relevant one here. However, what you seem to
            conveniently ignore is that MS not only bundled IE, but went out of
            their way to prevent any other browser from operating in Windows. Is
            this really what you feel Apple is doing? I can't say one way or the
            other, myself, but I do know that Apple sure isn't preventing any other
            browser from operating in OS X.

            Which reminds me: Why don't web pages created in Front Page parse
            properly in other browsers?
            Vulpinemac
          • @notsofast

            "Personally, i think Apple is about as MS was 15+ years ago."

            You obviously don't know what Microsoft was like 15+ years ago then.
            Axsimulate
          • @vulpine

            [i]However, what you seem to conveniently ignore is that MS not only bundled IE, but went out of their way to prevent any other browser from operating in Windows.[/i]

            Where'd you get that from? There was never a complaint, case or conviction in either the US or UK that MS was preventing alternative browsers from being installed or used.

            Netscape, Opera, Firefox, and now Chrome and Safari all install and work as intended on any supported (by the developer) OS.
            rtk
          • @rtk

            "Where'd you get that from? There was never a complaint, case or conviction in either the US or UK that MS was preventing alternative browsers from being installed or used."

            It was brought up in the anti-trust case and Microsoft was order by the court to make it easier for someone to use an alternate browser. Look it up.

            http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/ms_index.htm
            Axsimulate
          • I searched for quite a while on your link

            nowhere did I find anything about MS preventing the installation or use of alternate browsers.

            The case was about not allowing the uninstallation of IE.

            edit: more accurately, there's nothing about the end user using a different browser, or MS doing anything to prevent the installation or use of an alternate browser by an end user.

            Firefox's marketshare before the UK fiasco showed how pointless the entire affair really was.
            rtk
          • @rtk

            My mistake. It wasn't that they prevented Netscape of any other browser from being install, they hampered the ability to set any other as a default. No matter what the end user would do, whenever they clicked on a link or do anything to invoke a internet connection, IE would pop up instead of the browser of choice by the user. They also made if very difficult to uninstall IE if the users chose to do so. It's all right here...

            http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/f3800/msjudgex.htm#v

            Here is some quotes starting at 170

            "First, they did not provide users with the ability to uninstall Internet Explorer from Windows 98."

            "The second way in which Microsoft's engineers implemented Allchin's strategy was to make Windows 98 override the user's choice of default browser in certain circumstances."

            "Microsoft's refusal to respect the user's choice of default browser fulfilled Brad Chase's 1995 promise to make the use of any browser other than Internet Explorer on Windows 'a jolting experience.'"

            Face it rtk, Microsoft broke the law and did every illegal thing in their monopoly power to crush Netscape, and they did so very quickly. Oh and that was only after Netscape refuse to illegally collude with them and divide the market.
            Axsimulate
          • Let's go back to Vulpine's original claim

            that MS "went out of their way to prevent any other browser from operating in Windows"

            This is false, other browsers operated just fine on windows.

            The default browser ruse was about Windows Update requiring IE.
            rtk
          • @rtk

            "Let's go back to Vulpine's original claim"

            Why? so you can try and wipe the egg off your face?
            Axsimulate
          • @Axsimulate

            because you're strawman didn't work, Vulpine's claim is false.
            rtk
          • @rtk

            "because you're strawman didn't work, Vulpine's claim is false. "

            I realized the error and admitted it and corrected it. Microsoft may not have prevented any other browser to be installed, but they jumped through hoops to make it as "jolting" as they possibly could so the user would gravitate back to IE. No matter how you try to spin it, that's pure malice. And that is the way Microsoft treats its customers, the way only a monopoly could, full of contempt. And you apparently approve of this behavior. Because you defend them from this despicable behavior.
            Axsimulate
          • @ Axsimulate

            [i]Microsoft may not have prevented any other browser to be installed, but they jumped through hoops to make it as "jolting" as they possibly could so the user would gravitate back to IE[/i]

            No, they didn't, and no court found that they did. They made it hard to remove IE, not use another browser. At the time WU used ActiveX, therefore requiring IE to update Windows. As well, many small developers coded their programs to not look for the default browser, but to just launch the browser they knew for sure would be there, namely IE.

            Most of those have now been "fixed", but none of them prevented you from using an alternative browser and there were no hoops or jolts to deal with.

            [i]No matter how you try to spin it, that's pure malice.[/i]

            Except of course that the spin is yours, since the malicious parts have been fabricated.

            [i]And you apparently approve of this behavior. Because you defend them from this despicable behavior[/i]

            I've happily and successfully used Fx as my default browser since it was Phoenix and Firebird, more than 5 years ago, as have millions of others. There's nothing to defend against.
            rtk