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Report: FTC Examining Possible Antitrust Violations Involving Apple's Flash Ban

Report: FTC Examining Possible Antitrust Violations Involving Apple's Flash Ban

May 5, 2010 | By Kris Graft

May 5, 2010 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

Days after Apple CEO Steve Jobs blasted Flash provider Adobe for calling iPhone and iPad development a closed system, the Federal Trade Commission will be examining just how closed Apple's system really is, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Federal regulators will look into Apple's policy in which developers are required to use Apple development tools to create apps -- including games -- for the company's iPad, iPhone and iPod devices.

The fed's concern is that Apple may be committing antitrust violations, limiting competition on its millions-sold mobile devices by making developers choose between creating software for Apple's mobile devices or other platforms such as Blackberry and Google Android phones.

Adobe and Flash game developers have become concerned about the platform's lack of Flash compatibility. With no support on the iPhone or the new iPad, Flash games are out of luck, missing out on an audience comprised of millions of Apple mobile device owners.

And while native Flash support in the device's Safari browser is unlikely to come, recent changes to Apple's developer terms also make converting a Flash game to an executable iPhone app via Flash CS5's "Publish to iPhone" feature impossible.

Flash compatibility on Apple devices could increase competition with Apple's popular App Store.

In an open letter last week, Jobs insisted that Apple's decision not to support Flash on its devices is not a business-driven decision -- rather a technological one. "The 200,000 apps on Apple's App Store proves that Flash isn't necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games," Jobs wrote.

With Apple's 1 million iPad's sold in just a few weeks, and an iPhone installed base of 50 million units, it's no surprise that developers have bit the bullet and decided to make apps using Apple's tools.

Jobs also said, "Flash was created during the PC era -- for PCs and mice," adding that Flash "falls short" in the areas of power consumption, touch interfaces and open web standards.

The San Francisco Chronicle cited an unnamed source who said that the FTC inquiry is still in its preliminary stage, and not all inquiries result in a formal investigation.

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