With Google and Apple butting heads and locking horns at every corner these days one place neither of them want to be seen is in front of federal regulators full of anti-trust concerns. Google is getting very used to this kind of scrutiny but Apple seems to keep its nose clean as it relates to this kind of activity. That is until very recently.
A report from the New York Post tells us
After years of being the little guy who used Washington to fend off Goliaths like Microsoft, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is about to learn what life is like when the shoe’s on the other foot.
According to a person familiar with the matter, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are locked in negotiations over which of the watchdogs will begin an antitrust inquiry into Apple’s new policy of requiring software developers who devise applications for devices such as the iPhone and iPad to use only Apple’s programming tools.
Regulators, this person said, are days away from making a decision about which agency will launch the inquiry. It will focus on whether the policy, which took effect last month, kills competition by forcing programmers to choose between developing apps that can run only on Apple gizmos or come up with apps that are platform neutral, and can be used on a variety of operating systems, such as those from rivals Google, Microsoft and Research In Motion.
Now Apple gets a taste of Washington. It seems these days that it wouldn’t be the Internet space if there wasn’t some rumor of government concern over just how much of the world companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft plan to take over. I guess if any of us were surprised by this that may be even more telling because wild success in the business world (when achieved ethically of course) seems to be a bad thing these days. Maybe building the better mousetrap isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
The inquiry does not mean that there will be a full-blown investigation ever. The inquiry process is the first step in determining whether there is a real anti-trust issue at hand or not. Either way, Apple is now being viewed with the big boys rather the quirky outsider with a dedicated but contained following of “Apple-ites”. Those days are long gone with the mass-market appeal of their most recent offerings. As a result the money they have is something that no one can ignore.
However, thanks to the popularity of the iPod and iPhone, Apple is having a tough time continuing to play the role of David fighting against Goliath. Indeed, its market cap of $237.6 billion exceeds that of the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, whose market cap is $201.7 billion.
Well, when you put it in those terms it’s hard to see how Apple will ever stay off of anyone’s radar for the foreseeable future. Market cap that exceeds Wal-Mart? Of course, if Steve Jobs keeps lobbing verbal grenades over the wall at the likes of Adobe it won’t help matters either but it looks like there is a “Steve will be Steve!” thing happening here. These things didn’t seem to happen when he was on his health sabbatical did they?