Posted by: Frank | May 31, 2009

Is Apple Flirting with Antitrust Problems?

This morning I read an article about how Apple could block the Palm Pre from syncing with iTunes, and I am thinking that it would be a bad thing for Apple to pursue this type of tactic. Occasionally in talk about antitrust issues in the tech industry I hear comments about how Apple has a monopoly with iTunes and the iPod. I think that as iTunes gained more and more share of total music sales, the case for the claim of it being a monopoly was growing. Apple’s move to remove DRM from the majority of music it sells on iTunes was a step towards diffusing that claim because it broke the iTunes/iPod lock-in that it’s DRM created. Now that you can buy MP3 tracks from iTunes that will play on any MP3 player and computer, it would appear that antitrust claims disappear, but if Apple starts to appear to be intentionally making it difficult for consumers to put MP3 tracks on the player of their choice, it will start drawing more attention for bad monopolistic practices, the same practices that Apple and others in Silicon Valley railed against Microsoft for.

In this age it seems to me that going after large corporations for antitrust violations is a tool that administrations have used to gain favor with constituents. Particularly in this time when there is much anger against corporations, I think Apple would be wise to not draw attention to itself. Apple should resist the urge of favoring the iPod over other company’s players with iTunes, in fact, I think it would be smart for them to make it easy for any player or phone (Zune, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile, etc..) to sync with iTunes. They defintely should not be intentionally preventing other players from syncing music.

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