Linked by Eugenia Loli on Fri 24th Jul 2009 22:52 UTC
Editorial Every few years we geeks have our own kind of popcorn show to watch: tech companies showing teeth to one another. This time around, it's Palm vs Apple. In all seriousness though, how ethical is the battle around iTunes?
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So everything is monopoly now!!
by Hakime on Sat 25th Jul 2009 04:58 UTC
Member since:

" Sue Apple on grounds of abusing monopoly"

I have to disagree with this. Nothing is forcing a vendor to operate its software with third party hardware. If that would be true, every non-supported platform by a given software is called monopoly. That makes little sense. AutoCad is rather a big player in the CAD market, should Apple sue AutoDesk because they don't suport the mac? I don't think so....

Since the IE case in Europe, i have the feeling that people talk about monopoly without really knowing what it is. The particular case of IE did not emerge because IE was successful by itself or that because Microsoft was a fair player in its success. The main reason why the IE case began is that Microsoft did everything so that other browser did not have a chance to compete against IE (particularly on windows) from tying it to Windows to diverging from web standards. This was anti-competitive practices and resulted in an unfair monopoly.

Now did Apple did that? I believe not at all. Apple came to the music market and got successful there without any anti competitive practises. And Apple does not anything to prevent anyone else to develop and promote alternatives solutions to iTunes, the iTunes data base is totally open, pure XML. Nothing on Mac OS X is preventing third parties to develop their own solutions. Nothing... I believe therefore that Apple has a natural monopoly owned by its success and efforts to sell products that people in a large numer have come to use.

Or even, haven't you ever wonder why the EU never asked Apple to remove Safari from a Mac OS X installation? Apple has basically a monopoly (when it comes to the number of users) of Safari on Mac, right?

Your point of not supporting third party hardware has nothing to do with monopoly, absolutely nothing. It is totally free for a vendor to choose to support third party platforms with its proprietary software, depending on the market that it pursues and the ressources that it has. Being in a monopoly or not. You seem to forget that even if Apple has supported a few third party MP3 players, this was originally very limited and it simply did not make sense for Apple to continue to do that. You can find the list here

Those players are dead and since then, what player Apple should have supported? Are you suggesting that Apple should have supported all microsoft backed players? Even if they could have, that would have turned into nightmare for them, even Microsoft does not want to do that anymore with the Zune software. Supporting a large set of third party players is not easy, particularly if they are intended to be used with different DRMs technology (at that time) among other issues.

You are saying that Apple stopped to support third party players when the iPod got successful, this is totally wrong, they stopped mostly because the iTunes Store came. Remember the major asking Apple that their music is only playable on iPods? Yes, they could have keep support for non-DRM music, but then not only it does makes the things more complicated for Apple, but Apple should have then supported players based on Microsoft PlayFoSure DRMs too? Makes little sense...

You can regret or blame that Apple does not support third party players, that's your point of view, but saying that they are abusing monopoly makes little sense, supporting third party devises is first a technical issue and i personally understand that a company does not want to deal with phone calls of third party MP3 players or phones users asking why it does not work. Supporting a ton of third party devises is for Apple shooting on itself, this is a jungle and Apple was right not to deal with that.

Palm is behaving incredible childish, it is like they are looking for direct confrontation with Apple. Using Apple's own USB vendor ID, this is crazy. And the same time they accuse Apple of improper use of the Vendor ID, how silly it is this?

I am sure that Palm has considered Songbird, but they don't believe in this. SongBird is too much of a iTunes ripp off that really does not make more than iTunes, and actually calling feature complete compared to iTunes is a big stretch. Most of users won't look at a software which just mimics the one that they already use. Palm does not believe eiher that they can develop themselves an alternative to iTunes for their Pre and hope in the same time that people will use it or that it will promote the Pre. Palm simply does not have the ressources to compete against iTunes, they are late in the game.

What remains? Well, stealing Apple's software because they know that with iTunes support they can sell more Pres to those people who wish to have musics with it. Without a good platform like iTunes, Palm can't sell the Pre as a media phone. Then again, no other choice than stealing software from others, it is understandable that Palm is coming to that, but it is non acceptable that they crossed the red line, because we are talking here about a big company which must respect some rules. If they did not have the strength to compete with the iPhone, then they should not have made the Pre, why now coming with such behavior and making so much troubles to the point that Apple will have to bring the lawyers to the story? They are making everything so that things gets nasty, i mean even a miserable company in China cloning someone else products does not do that...

Edited 2009-07-25 05:04 UTC

Reply Score: 5

David Member since:

But there's a difference between supporting a third party player and simply not interfering with a third party player connecting. Neither Microsoft nor Dell will "support" the off-brand Chinese sound card you install on your computer, but they also won't forbid you from installing and using it as long as you can make it work. (and by support I mean if you call them and say your sound isn't working they'll tell you to take it up with the manufacturer of the sound card.

Apple would have no responsibility to support the Palm Pre. They could just say "go talk to Palm about it" and that would be standard industry procedure. They already do it every day for hundreds of Mac accessories and peripherals.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:

It's clear that you do not know what a monopoly is. Like so many other people on the internet, you think someone only has a monopoly when he abuses it. This is not true.

A company has a monopoly when it has a large enough market share to be able to dictate the rest of the market. That's all there's to it. A monopoly isn't illegal. A monopoly isn't evil.

However, once you're in the monopoly position, you can't just do as you please. Now that iTunes/iPod has a monopoly, Apple can no longer act as if it's a minor player. They can no longer cripple competitors by willfully locking them out of iTunes. Those days are over.

Apple is abusing its monopoly position right now. This is wrong. This must stop. Just as we would scream bloody murder if Microsoft were to intentionally break Firefox or SAMBA every other week, we should scream bloody murder now too. But now that it's Apple, it's suddenly all okay?

If Apple continues this behaviour, they're going to be in trouble. The Bush administration was too busy being idiots to care about stuff like this, but with the new government in the US, as well as the economic crisis making people think very negatively of big corporations, Apple is in for a nice round of anti-trust lawsuits.

And let's not even begin about Europe.

Reply Parent Score: 6

mrhasbean Member since:

Apple is abusing its monopoly position right now. This is wrong. This must stop. Just as we would scream bloody murder if Microsoft were to intentionally break Firefox or SAMBA every other week, we should scream bloody murder now too. But now that it's Apple, it's suddenly all okay?

So impart your infinite wisdom to us Thom and tell us how exactly they are abusing their monopoly at all, let alone in a way anything close to being Microsoftesque?

iTunes is open - stock standard XML that ANYONE can write an app to interface with. iTunes provides methods for manually exporting and importing content if the user so wishes, thus allowing for manual transfer to another device. iTunes isn't tied in any way to the OS, and can be installed and uninstalled at will. iTunes supports industry standard file formats for Music, Audio and Audiobooks. The iPod and iPhone can be used with third party apps, and iTunes doesn't break the Pre or any other device you connect to it - it simply doesn't support them, just like the Canon scanner software will only talk to a Canon scanner.

So all we have here is a company protecting their development investment in an application that they give away for free to manage their media devices and phones - oh and of course the Apple haters trying to make it something it isn't.

But Thom, if I hear you correctly you are saying that it is OK for a company to restrict what devices their software supports until those devices become successful - or a so-called monopoly - at which point they have to then support other devices. Is that what you're trying to tell us Thom? So who determines the magical point at which it is a monopoly?

Reply Parent Score: 1

StephenBeDoper Member since:

A company has a monopoly when it has a large enough market share to be able to dictate the rest of the market. That's all there's to it. A monopoly isn't illegal. A monopoly isn't evil.

So far, you appear to be the first commenter in this thread who has actually passed a Macro Economics course.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Snapper Member since:

Musics? The plural of music is... music.

Reply Parent Score: 1