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The Empire Strikes Back: Is Apple Risking an EU Slapdown?

The Empire Strikes Back: Is Apple Risking an EU Slapdown?

I’m not an ardent Apple user. Back in the day I worked in a Lawyer’s (we call them Solicitors where I come from) office providing technical support for a suite of Apple IIe’s.

I have done some extensive functional testing on iMac’s too and I have had the chance to fiddle around with my niece’s iPod.

Apple makes neat stuff, it is truly striking in design and seems to do what it promises to.

Probably my favorite Apple product would be Quicktime, Apple’s signature multimedia platform/ application/ player. I have been using it for years and these days it and other competitors reside on my PC’s.

This aside I was reading the reports online about the developer restrictions that Apple have imposed locking out such platforms as Adobe’s Flash to iPhone converter in the impending CS5.

The fantastic Download Squad has an article where Steve Jobs replies to a developer, Greg Slepak,

“We’ve been there before, and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform."

If I understand this Steve Jobs is clearly stating that quality and the process of ensuring quality in application development for Apple products can only be assured by cutting out 3rd parties and their Development environments.

I am not sure of the standards of software/ hardware QA imposed and adhered to within Apple itself but surely creating an approved standard that 3rd Parties must adhere to and thus receive some Apple Stamp of Approval would be a little less draconian.

If even one major bug (defect) creeps through Apple’s QA process into their SDK this sort of statement could have severely negative ramifications and not just on a PR level.

Whilst I doubt that this will cause users to look elsewhere for the kind of products Apple creates it might just affect the undecided consumers who are torn between these and their competitors products.

More importantly, isn’t this the kind of thing that got Microsoft first and later Apple themselves (with iTunes) in trouble with the EU regarding antitrust / anti-competition?

Is the EU even a major factor in Apple’s decision? Will the continued sales heavily outweigh any fine such a case may impose on Apple?

As someone with QA experience I can relate to the idea behind this decision as a way of attempting to keep levels of quality under in-house control. However, as I mentioned earlier I am a fan of defining required standards of testing leading to an Approved Stamp of Approval for an application; it’s a little less draconian.

How long for example were Adobe investing time, money and effort in creating their 3rd party solution all the while we must assume that Apple knew they were going to impose these restrictions?

In a previous blog I addressed my understanding and possible interpretation of Steve Jobs tough comments regarding Adobe Flash again this decision seems to focus on Adobe.

It’s going to interesting to see if the EU is consistent in their legal outrage.


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