Mobile

Apple antitrust probe prompted by Adobe complaint, may lead to iPhone developer policy change

Yesterday, the FTC and the Department of Justice were reportedly readying an antitrust probe into Apple due to restrictive changes in its iPhone Developer Agreement. The changes banned the use of tools that convert apps built on other platforms into iPhone apps. Now we’re beginning to see more details leaking out.

The probe was apparently sparked by a complaint from Adobe, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. Apple’s new policy led Adobe to give up on its Flash-to-iPhone compiler, which would allow developers to build apps in Flash and easily turn them into iPhone apps. Adobe says that Apple is stifling innovation with the policy change, according to the sources.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has made his distaste for Adobe’s Flash technology very clear over the past few months, and many believe the more restrictive Developer Agreement was a direct result of that attitude. Among his many complaints, Jobs believes that Flash is too unreliable to be on the iPhone, and a massive battery hog. Jobs contends that he’s protecting iPhone users by not supporting Flash, but of course, Adobe’s CEO thinks differently.

Apple may consider changing the policy to avoid a probe, according to the Wall Street Journal. While reverting the policy would seem like the easiest move for Apple to placate regulators, Jobs’s very public stance against Flash and third-party authoring tools for iPhone OS apps makes it difficult for Apple to back down.

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