Why no antitrust for Apple?

The European Union this month decided to drop any further antitrust charges against Microsoft on the issue related to the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows. The case was settled with Microsoft agreeing to give Windows users a choice of 12 other Web browsers, including Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Opera during installation. This makes me wonder why no one has asked a question like this around Apple’s iPhone App Store. The App Store is the only (legal) way to get applications onto the iPhone. Apple has full mandate over what goes into the App Store and what is rejected. For a long time Apple’s own Safari browser was the only browser available for the iPhone. Any browser developed by a third-party was immediately rejected. Earlier this year Apple opened up for a few third-party browsers. The requirement is that they must be based on Apple’s WebKit engine. This immediately rules out browsers such as Firefox and Opera. Rumor has it that Opera did submit their Opera Mini browser to the App Store, but that it was reject although this rumor has never really been confirmed. Comparing this to Microsoft’s browser settlement, I would say Microsoft’s position is nothing compared to Apple’s. All Microsoft did was to include their own browser with their own software. Users could at any point change to a different browser if they so wished. However, with Apple this is not even possible as Apple has the final say as to what software eventually will be available for their platform. My question is; why is Microsoft in so much trouble and Apple not? Something is very wrong here…

4 Replies to “Why no antitrust for Apple?”

  1. Hi Jannie, nice 'meeting' you too.

    With regards to the post, I think the EU looks at the overall market share of any given company.

    To clarify, let me use an example. Firefox is the second most used browser according to market share. There was safari before FF was brought out of the netscape grave. But what do we see, it has surpassed Safari in a period of 5 years.

    Why you ask. Because even with Safari preinstalled on Macs, Apple does not have enough market share to make competition nigh impossible for other browsers.

    MS on the other hand, commands almost all of the market. Competing with such a behemoth is impossible on any grounds other than what the EU has stipulated.

    On the issue of iPhone, I know the EU will act the moment the iPhone trounces all competition and becomes a virtual monopoly in Europe.

    I don't have the figures but I know it is not the market leader in the EU as it is in the US.

    That's how I see it from where I sit.

  2. sinaisix:

    You make an excellent point about Microsoft's dominant market share.

    Still, if Apple were to reject any browser due to fear of competition to Safari I think that would be a huge problem (I'm not saying they have though). None of the Webkit based browsers currently in the App Store compares to Safari.

    Also, I think the lack of interest from certain parts of the software development community when it comes to the iPhone platform is inability and restrictions as to what system levels an iPhone application is allowed to access (i.e. the WebKit for browsers). This may be way too restrictive for e.g. Operas technology.

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