EU Jumps into iOS Code Restriction Investigation

Apparently the European Union has decided to join with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in investigating Apple’s policy prohibiting cross-compiler tools for building iPhone applications. The policy became headline news after Adobe complained publicly that the move meant developers couldn’t use its Flash-based iPhone app development tools.

Word that the EU is participating in the FTC’s investigation comes from unnamed sources, according to the New York Post. Despite the assertion, there isn’t any official word from the FTC that it is actually conducting an antitrust investigation into Apple’s coding restriction policies.

The assumption, however, is that the FTC has launched an official investigation because the organization withheld related documents from the media over concerns the release could negatively impact law enforcement-related functions.

“We have located 189 pages of responsive records, all of which are exempt from the FOIA’s disclosure requirement,” FTC general counsel Joan A. Fina told Wired in response a request for documents related to Adobe’s complaint.

Since the agency doesn’t confirm ongoing investigations, the denial for documents has been interpreted to mean an investigation is underway.

Apple chose to ban third-party compilers that don’t directly call iOS APIs to avoid lowest common denominator situations where developers write an app to deploy on multiple smartphones, but code only for the least capable device. Apple contends it is within its rights to limit the types of tools developers use to code for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Assuming an investigation is underway, it could take several months before it is completed.