Nitasha Tiku at Wired has a fascinating look at a potential shift in competition law with regards to technology, fueled by trends in privacy and big data. Lina Khan, a former colleague of mine, is quoted extensively, offering some very sharp opinions and questions. Well worth a read.
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.
I suppose it was merely a matter of time before this happened. Google gives away so many services and remains largely quite innovative. That it has become the one dominant x in any number of areas, including search and email, makes it an attractive target.
As Jacqui Cheung explains at Ars, though, at least one of the competitors bringing the complaint may be undermining their own case with their linking and aggregation practices which could be seen as legitimately running afoul of Google’s web spam filters rather than any explicit discrimination.
Google, of course, is trying to reinforce this view, that they aren’t doing anything intentional to suppress competition. The EU has traditionally been harder on questions of monopoly, though, so it should be interesting to see what they find as the investigation continues.
I’m going to be moving to the enhanced podcast format, since there hasn’t been any feedback requesting me not to. I will get a parallel, MP3 feed set up, hopefully with Wouter’s help. There will be plenty of warning before the change in file format with direction to the new feed for those that want to keep getting plain MP3s.
Some security alerts in the intro: another IE image flaw, beware Google desktop copying your files, security update to the JVM, and MS patch Tuesday to include 7 fixes, two of them potentially remote exploitable.
Also in the intro, FireFox 2.0 Alpha is coming/here!
In this week’s news, BitTorrent presses trademark enforcement, Stallman will not support Creative Commons, Apple antitrust case is posssible (regardless of whether it is viable), and FTC wants to shame adware, but will it work?
This week’s feature, another Inner Chapter. This time, continuous and incremental improvement, with some counter examples.
Download the show directly.