FTC Omission Hints at Apple Antitrust Investigation

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is denying access to nearly 200 pages of documents related to Adobe’s complaint over Apple blocking Flash-based apps for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad on the grounds that releasing them could interfere with law enforcement-related duties. That denial, according to Wired, is a red flag indicating the agency is investigating Apple for potential antitrust violations.

In response to a request for the documents under the Freedom of Information Act, Wired was told by FTC general counsel Joan A. Fina, “We have located 189 pages of responsive records, all of which are exempt from the FOIA’s disclosure requirement. These records are exempt… because disclosure of that material could reasonably be expected to interfere with the conduct of the Commission’s law enforcement activities.”

By blocking Wired from seeing the documents, the reasoning goes, the FTC is indirectly confirming that it is investigating Apple.

Word surfaced in May that the FTC may be looking into Apple’s policies that requiring all third-party iPhone, iPod touch and iPad app developers to use only approved coding tools. The rules block non-native development environments and cross-compilers that churn out apps for multiple platforms from the same code, which includes Adobe’s Flash environment.

Adobe eventually filed a complaint with the FTC after a very public spat with Apple over the policy.

Assuming the agency is investigating Apple for potential antitrust violations, and eventually sues the company, Apple could agree to a settlement that includes changes to its policy limiting iOS development tools. If so, there’s a chance Adobe’s iPhone app compiler for Flash could get a second chance at life.

Apple and Adobe aren’t talking about the potential investigation, and the FTC doesn’t confirm or deny ongoing investigations, either.

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Comments

Tiger

Die, Flash, die. I’m blocking it now on my Macs. It’s awful. It’s amazing how much faster web pages load without it. And suddenly, NO crashes with Safari. I guess I figured out (be elimination!) what the culprit was.

Why would I want it to slow down or worse, crash my phone?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Flash is not going to die Tiger. And if you’d like a crash-free experience with Flash in your browser, have you tried Chrome? Same WebKit roots, yet Google can make the same Flash plugin not crash in its browser. As the great Delonte West used to say, “How playuh is that?”

geoduck

OTOH
As it appears to me the only one that might be in violation of AntiTrust is Adobe. They have a stranglehold on the web and are engaging in what appears to me to be questionable tactics to punish anyone that defies them.

Adobe is the abuser, not Apple.

Tiger

Yeah, I tried Chrome. Annoyed the heck out of me. Four different times now since it’s release.

It’s as bad as Vista with the obtrusive “can I do this, please please please” messages.

But with so many browsers out now, it cannot be said that there isn’t competition. LOTS of it in fact. I have 5 browsers on my Mac now.

And Flash may in fact die. Everything does.

geoduck

And Flash may in fact die. Everything does.

And those that insist that Flash is essential and wonderful are like people of my Dad’s generation that insisted that piston aircraft were better than jets.

We are at the dawning of theInternet jet age. It’s time for Flash, like the DC-3 and P-51 to move aside for something better.

PhotoFinish

I just tried Chrome again, hoping that it in fact doesn’t crash with Flash. It took all of 2 minutes for Chrome to crash due to Flash Plug-in with the whole unhappy face and all. And yes I running the current version of Chrome. I checked. Chrome reported that it was up to date.

Guess Flash still is the problem after all.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

PhotoFinish… Perhaps you can post a screen shot and a URL of the page that “crashed”. Until then, I’m calling shenanigans. Do you also have the latest Flash player installed? System info?

Tiger… There are over a million Flash developers. They create all kinds of animations, interactive applications, games, etc. You don’t hear the complaints about Flash crashing on Windows or Android because it doesn’t. One reason it has been more reliable on those platforms is that they don’t have 5 different ways that the player has to talk to the operating system just to blit bits on the screen! The Mac does if you want to support back to 10.4, an operational requirement for Adobe if they want to be on 99+% of desktops.

If you guys are gonna be haters, at least do so from a point of knowledge. You three don’t seem to be doing anything but parroting Lord Steven.

Dean Lewis

I hear complaints about Flash crashing or slowing things to a crawl in Windows. Haven’t heard much about Android except that Flash is still not ready for it, or at least on mobile android devices. My pseudo-scientific anecdote is better than yours.

Gunhedd

With the DMCA allowing jail-breaking as fair use, and since one can go back to the factory settings with a Restore, Apple could just enable it (with plenty of warnings, disavowals and “you’re-on-your-own’s”.) With that option selected, customer service can be limited to restoring the phone back to factory settings.

Then folks can quit their bitchin’ and put whatever crap they want on their iPhones. Let ‘em learn the hard way.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Pop quiz for the haters concerning “slowness” of Flash… Can you give a technically plausible explanation for why a web page containing Flash content might take longer to load with Flash turned on than with Flash turned off? Answer that for a C. To get a B, provide a way that you could predict how much longer it might take. To get an A, explain why a competing technology (e.g. HTML 5 or SVG) would or would not suffer the same slowness for equivalent content.

I’ll give you an answer in two hours. If you’re going to be a hater, at least understand the issues.

Dean Lewis

At least some only hate a computer program and don’t hate on everyone with a differing opinion as if its a personal affront that needs to be addressed by self-aggrandizing “lessons.”

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Ask the million plus Flash developers if they feel a little hated by Apple’s intellectually dishonest campaign. I know if you guys actually had a 5,000 foot understanding of the issues, you would not be haters.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

For Dean Lewis first, the “C” answer…

A web page with Flash content will typically take longer to load with Flash turned on than with Flash turned off because of the relative sizes of the downloading the HTML page (typically all text) and the .swf file, which typically contains or references graphics and sounds needed by the Flash app.

I would give Dean a C+ or a B- if he went on to say that complaining about Flash being slow loading and turning it off to make things faster is like complaining that the movers with their big truck are slow, firing them, and deciding to just take what will fit into your Camry’s trunk.

@Gunnhead… You don’t need to jailbreak your iPhone. Just ask someone with an original Motorola Droid (born last November) for a demo of Flash in the browser after they get the FroYo update in the next week or so.

computerbandgeek

I am one of those “flash-blockers” too, but if I’m understanding the article correctly, Apple is being investigated for not allowing the Flash cross-compiler, and other development environments that aren’t Xcode onto the iPhone.

This flash cross-complier was a fascinating and innovative idea that would allow flash to (theoretically) perform exactly as well as code written for the iPhone in C. As far as the iPhone would be concerned, the compiled Flash apps would behave exactly the same as C apps and the OS wouldn’t know the difference. Apple NEVER denied this fact.

The reason that Apple objected to a Flash compiler for iPhone was because they were afraid that Adobe wouldn’t update their compiler quickly enough when Apple added new features to the iPhone, such as a Retina Display, or front-facing camera, or iPad-sized screen, or Multitasking. If a large portion of devs started relying solely on Adobe’s flash compiler for iPhone to write their apps, everyone would be at the mercy of Adobe to keep everything up-to-date. This means loss of total control for Apple, which put’s Steve’s turtleneck in a bunch wink.

However this argument is still a completely false point, because the developers that want to stay on the bleeding edge will continue to use Apple’s development tools. Before this ban was enacted there were a few productivity apps on the appstore that people happily used and never realized that they were written in Flash. Obviously there wouldn’t be any front-facing videoconfrencing apps written in flash (at least for a while), but if they perform the same there is no reason not to allow devs to use Flash for apps that don’t require direct hardware interfacing (such as a To-do list app).

Wheather or not you hate Flash for mac is completely irrelevant to what is being investigated here.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@computerbancdgeek… You mean Adobe would drag their feet so iPhone devs couldn’t do this, right?

Is Fruit Smash Organic still in the App Store. It was made from AIR. Each time this comes up, I ask someone here to buy it for $2 and tell us all the ways it sucks, since it obviously must given it’s heritage. And nobody takes me up on it. Strange.

solarsculptor

Flash is still vaporware on mobile devices. There is nothing for Adobe to defend. Adobe can not develop a working version period . That’s why it doesn’t work on the iPhone.
Bosco, do you have a Mac? If you do, and you use Safari, you have had Flash crash Safari. Adobe spends very little effort on Mac development, Apple is finally returning the favor. Screw Adobe.
Click to Flash is the best Mac app to appear in years. Is there a PC version?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@solarsculptor… Actually, I use Chrome on my Mac. Since switching from Safari a couple of months ago, I no longer experience daily crashes when playing Flash games like FarmVille on my Mac. Adobe has also released Flash Player 10.1 in that timeframe, which fixes many crashing issues on the Mac. Ever innovative Apple has 5 graphics models that Safari plugin developers need to support if you’re going to work back to 10.4. Compare to exactly one on Windows to support XP and later. API stability can work wonders for overall system stability.

And maybe you can explain to me how I play Flash games from Kongregate.com on my Nexus One in the browser, since Flash is still vaporware on mobile devices. Adobe makes the most amazing vaporware ever!

darrenmiller

Adobe has a strangelhold on the web? lol, ok, sure. if you say so.

beachguy

I use Mozilla and had to download a plugin to block flash content as it kept crashing the browser.  Running it in IE is even slower and worst.  IE is a resource hogger and loading flash on top of it is like telling your computer “you belong to flash now… die in peace.”

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