This news is according to sources informing the New York Post and might be somewhat credible. Specifically, the DoJ and FTC are discussing internally which agency will conduct the investigation. The Post failed to get a comment one way or another from either agency. Their source says that a decision should be only a few days away so we won’t have to wait long for confirmation. The Post article also reminds us that an investigation, if it proceeds, won’t necessarily end in an action against Apple.
The issue at the heart of this is a recent change to Apple’s developer license, a new clause forbidding the use of third party tools to develop applications for their mobile platform. I asked whether the license as we first saw it disclosed warranted an antitrust investigation just based on the prohibition against distributing iPhone applications through other channels. As far as I am concerned this is overdue and entirely reasonable, regardless of its outcome.
The rest of the Post article indulges in some hand wringing over how Apple, once the rebel of the computing world, has come to this pass, embodying the dominant company mentality they used to fight. I don’t find it surprising, we have tons of examples of plucky upstarts succumbing to basic game theory–when you are behind you risk it all because you have nothing to lose, when you are ahead you work to maintain your position because otherwise you have everything to lose on a gamble.
I think the more interesting question is whether newer upstarts can better resist the current metric of economic success, incessant growth. I’d feel more comfortable supporting a company that espoused a clear policy of enough is enough rather than the maniacal emphasis on market share that leads to these kinds of abuses.