The Federal Trade Commission will open an investigation into whether Apple is illegally using its position in the mobile software market to harm competitors, according to several published reports.
At issue is Apple’s recent tweaking of its App Store rules. In May, Apple made changes that prohibit certain developer tools from being used to create applications for the iPhone and iPad, and on Monday effectively blocked Google’s AdMob and other non-independent mobile ad networks from accessing applications on the iPhone.
The probe will look at whether Apple is using its highly successful App Store to hurt competitors. When Apple changed the rules on which tools could be used to write apps sold in the App Store it raised eyebrows, as the shifts seemed to specifically target Adobe, with whom Apple recently had a public fallout.
The new rules blocked developers using other platforms that allow them to make one application that runs on multiple devices–for example, not just on Apple’s iPhone, but on competitors’ devices as well. Adobe’s Flash platform and Novell’s MonoTouch are both developer tools that fall into this category.
Then, earlier this week, Apple banned developers from using advertising in their iPhone applications that shares analytic data with “an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple.”