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DOJ’s Apple investigation goes beyond music

By | Published on Wednesday 2 June 2010

The US Department Of Justice’s investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices undertaken by Apple will go beyond its music operations, according to the New York Post.

As previously reported, rumours were circulating last week that the DoJ had begun investigating allegations that Apple had used its dominance in the digital music domain to put pressure on both EMI and Sony Music to not participate in an MP3 promotion run by Amazon, arguably Apple’s biggest competitor in the a-la-carte download market, certainly in the US.

According to the Post, the investigation will also look into other allegations of Apple abusing its market dominance, in particular with regards the IT firm’s decision to freeze Adobe out of the iPad party by choosing to not support Flash on the new tablet device, which has now sold more than two million units.

Actually, Adobe has already developed a new non-Flash-based magazine publishing platform that works on Apple’s latest gizmo, and which is already being piloted by Wired magazine, so the tech firm hasn’t really been denied access to iPad users, but Apple’s decision to not support Flash on its new device has been criticised by some media and entertainment execs as well as by tech types, especially those whose existing web-services rely on Flash technology.

As well as speaking to music, movie and media types, the DoJ is also reportedly speaking to the programming community about the terms Apple prescribes for those developing apps for the iPhone and iPad, an important and rapidly growing strand of the digital content market.

It should be stressed even the Post notes that DoJ insiders say that their investigations at the moment are speculative, based on some griping in tech and media circles, and the IT firm hasn’t been formally accused of breaching any American anti-trust rules.

But one expects the DoJ will find plenty of execs in the media, entertainment and IT industries willing to moan about Apple’s increased market dominance in the digital content arena, and the hardline approach to business it has become known for in the last ten years. The fact Apple has somehow maintained its public persona as the cuddly underdog despite being a major player who negotiates tough in all its business deals pisses off said execs even more.