Is Apple starting to be seen as an evil empire? For years Apple has reaped the rewards of the underdog, gaining a cult-like following from hipsters who revel in, and pay a premium for, not only product performance but counter-culture symbolism, too. While Microsoft took a beating the public and the DoJ for trying to be a monopoly, trying to starve competitors and corner any market they could, Apple was hailed as a kind of freedom fighter.
Well, now it’s Apple’s turn to answer questions about shady strategy.
For years the company has been inching toward vertical monopoly, making it difficult to get music from non-iTunes e-stores onto its devices and even more cumbersome to get iTunes music onto non-iPod devices. It’s just that its devices were too rad to make much of a stink about it; plus, doing so would only make you a pariah amongst the cooler-than-thou hipster class. Not so much, anymore.
Now that another high-cool-quotient company (Google) is turning out products to compete with Apple’s, such as the G1 phone, Apple absolutism is slowly eroding among tech-consuming trendsetters. And as that’s happening, the Department of Justice’s sometimes blind eye is starting see some things.
The DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission are considering a probe into Apple’s app rules, according to a report in the New York Post. It centers on the company’s ban on third party app development tools. But Apple has other more alarming practices, i.e., it decides which company is allowed to do what and say what on its hardware. Television manufacturers like Toshiba can’t control what on-air personalities say or do, can they? No, but Apple to a large degree does. It’s just that its iPhones are too hip for hipsters to worry about it. Maybe times are changing some more.