Apple/Adobe Kerfuffle Goes Federal; FTC To Investigate iPhad Development Clauses
The troublesome section of Apple's developer license is 3.3.1, which states:
"We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform," Jobs wrote. "We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers."
"This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features...we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms."
There are two ways to read this excerpt. From Apple's point of view, Jobs is saying that the company can't afford to be chained to a cross-platform framework that could prevent Apple from designing products that deliver an optimal user experience. To an outsider, however, Jobs' position sounds awful anticompetitive. Even if we grant Jobs' point regarding multiplatform development tools—specifically, that they cater to the least common denominator—Apple is scarcely reliant on third parties to provide software for the App Store.
If the FTC deems to investigate this issue, Jobs' sixth point will make a lousy legal defense. It relies on certain assumptions regarding Flash and the behavior of Adobe (or any third-party API developer) without proof that such problems have ever existed. Apple isn't blocking Flash because Adobe has hindered iPhone development, they're blocking it because Adobe could. If an antitrust violation has occurred (and that's a huge if), the argument won't fly.