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Author Topic: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse  (Read 29847 times)

pasquale

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Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« on: April 29, 2012, 08:37:27 pm »
Hello, everybody.

After learning about the restrictions imposed in Mountain Lion -- which  will be shipped with the default option which prevents unsigned apps from being installed -- it is my intention to submit this case to the attention of the European Commission.

As I said in one of my previous posts, I believe that the main monopoly abuse lies in the fact that, under Mountain Lion, the message box you get when you download and double-click on an unsigned application tells you nothing about how to install it if you want to. It just tells you "to move it to the Trash and this is clearly unfair competition which stinks to high heaven". (See my previous post entitled "Writing data to a bundle subfolder")

Now, I have managed to find the European Commission Web site where they provide you with the e-mail and postal addresses you can use to communicate what you think may be a case of monopoly abuse:

Quote
comp-market-information@ec.europa.eu

European Commission
Directorate-General for Competition
Antitrust Registry
B-1049 Brussels
Belgium

Please indicate your name and address, identify the firms and products concerned and describe clearly the practice you have observed. This will help the European Commission to detect problems in the market and can be the starting point for an investigation.

The reason for this thread is to ask any members of this forum -- who have some experience in using legal English and believe mine is a just cause -- to give me a helping hand writing down the text of my complaint letter.

The points I would like to highlight are the following:

  • Mountain Lion will be shipped with GateKeeper, whose default option prevents unsigned apps from being installed. While doing so, GateKeeper does not inform the user on how to proceed if he or she wants to install the unsigned app anyway.
  • With Gatekeeper, Apple are heavily discouraging inexperienced users from installing unsigned and/or non-Mac App Store apps, hence penalizing their competitors.
  • If you want to code-sign your applications you must pay Apple an annual fee of 99,00 euros/dollars.
  • Code-signing your applications just means you have paid your fee to Apple. It does not guarantee that your app is malware or virus free. This may demonstrate that the reason why Apple oblige you to code-sign your apps is purely commercial.
  • Apple's objective -- preventing malware apps from being installed -- could be achieved shipping their OS with a good anti-virus piece of software which would not penalize their competitors.

Finally, I honestly believe that even the "app dictatorship" of iOS represents a case of monopoly abuse, but I would leave it out right now as the case would become "too big".

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I'm beginning to love the Mac and hate Apple's money-hungry policy.

Phil

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2012, 08:45:43 pm »
There is no monopoly abuse when there is no monopoly. OS X has probably 5% of the market of desktop OS - hence the difference from MS's IE issue, as I think most readers here are aware.

Thanks.

-Phil

pasquale

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2012, 08:54:03 pm »
If it is not a case of monopoly abuse, it is surely a case of unfair competition. On the European Commission Web site you can read:

Quote
What can I do if I suspect that a business practice restricts competition?

In your daily life, you may come across situations in which there are signs of business practices which may restrict competition...

So, it's six of one and half a dozen of the other.
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jwdietrich

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2012, 09:07:53 pm »
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What can I do if I suspect that a business practice restricts competition?

In your daily life, you may come across situations in which there are signs of business practices which may restrict competition...

Like all information of the European union also the web sites of the European Commission are voluminous, complex, confusing and mazelike. Would you mind to provide a link to the information you found?
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pasquale

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2012, 09:15:13 pm »
Quote
What can I do if I suspect that a business practice restricts competition?

In your daily life, you may come across situations in which there are signs of business practices which may restrict competition...

Like all information of the European union also the web sites of the European Commission are voluminous, complex, confusing and mazelike. Would you mind to provide a link to the information you found?

Here is the link:
http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consumers/contacts_en.html

By the way, take a look at this interesting article about Apple's monopoly:

http://www.pcworld.com/article/136949/is_apple_the_new_microsoft.html
I'm beginning to love the Mac and hate Apple's money-hungry policy.

marcov

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2012, 09:29:19 pm »
There is no monopoly abuse when there is no monopoly. OS X has probably 5% of the market of desktop OS - hence the difference from MS's IE issue, as I think most readers here are aware.

Wrong. It is not an OS monopoly (forced on OEMs, as it was with the MS antitrust scheme), but a monopoly in a certain application market. (the one for Apple OS X systems).

I've no idea if this is something that anti-trust law applies to, but it is not related to OS vs OS arguments.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2012, 09:50:32 pm by marcov »

pasquale

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2012, 09:35:38 pm »
Quote
Wrong. It is not an OS monopoly this is against, but a monopoly in a certain application market. (for Apple systems). The rest is not relevant.

I would add to what marcov said that Apple's market share is becoming bigger and bigger. For example, in the tablet market I think they are number one on the list. Monopoly abuses should be nipped in the bud, otherwise they may set a precedent.
I'm beginning to love the Mac and hate Apple's money-hungry policy.

Phil

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2012, 09:55:08 pm »
There is no monopoly abuse when there is no monopoly. OS X has probably 5% of the market of desktop OS - hence the difference from MS's IE issue, as I think most readers here are aware.

Wrong. It is not an OS monopoly (forced on OEMs, as it was with the MS antitrust scheme) this is against, but a monopoly in a certain application market. (for Apple systems).

I've no idea if this is something that anti-trust law applies to, but it is not related to OS vs OS arguments.

That what a monopoly is in this case - OS vs. OS. And even if Apple did have a monopoly (which they're nowhere near close to - approx. 5% desktop share, less than 10% worldwide handset share), how would the things he objects to reinforce the monopoly - wouldn't charging a fee aid other platforms that have no fee?

The game console development world has been done like Apple's dev programs for many years.

Thanks.

-Phil
« Last Edit: April 29, 2012, 10:01:47 pm by Phil »

Phil

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2012, 10:00:15 pm »
Quote
Wrong. It is not an OS monopoly this is against, but a monopoly in a certain application market. (for Apple systems). The rest is not relevant.

I would add to what marcov said that Apple's market share is becoming bigger and bigger. For example, in the tablet market I think they are number one on the list. Monopoly abuses should be nipped in the bud, otherwise they may set a precedent.

Your thinking is pretty muddled here. If your interest is in, say, encouraging competition (the heart of the "monopoly" argument), explain how what you object to hurts other platforms.

I would suggest that you take this up elsewhere - this sort of the topic just tends to devolve into a semantic black hole conversation (and between non-attorneys no less, on a technical support forum).

In any case, here's what will happen if you submit something to the EU: at best you'll receive a polite form letter; probably you'll never hear from them.

Thanks.

-Phil

marcov

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2012, 10:19:51 pm »

That what a monopoly is in this case - OS vs. OS.

IMHO not. It is Apple barging in into the previously open applications market for OS X, trying to increase the share of their own sales (they get 30% of app market).

Just like the MSIE preference treatment by MS. And just as that was other browser vendors vs Microsoft, this is "OS X but not Apple paying application vendors" vs Apple.

And the argument that "you can turn it off" didn't work for MS either. (though admitted, there were more complaints about MS, specially in how it strongarmed OEMs)
 
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And even if Apple did have a monopoly (which they're nowhere near close to - approx. 5% desktop share, less than 10% worldwide handset share), how would the things he objects to reinforce the monopoly - wouldn't charging a fee aid other platforms that have no fee?

Its not platforms. It is a move against vendors that don't pay Apple (anually or via 30% app market)

Quote
The game console development world has been done like Apple's dev programs for many years.

And Microsoft got caught with MSIE. And that was just _one_ program that got MS preferential treatment, not ALL.

One can debate which case is closer, MS or console, but I think the MS one is. By miles.

Slowly Apple is getting a worse evil empire than MS ever was. Natural process of action and reaction I guess. Anyway, a trial would be popcorn fun. I bet the Jobs Mails about "Destroying Android" will be prominently featured as typical Apple way of doing business.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2012, 10:24:21 pm by marcov »

Phil

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2012, 10:32:04 pm »
Slowly Apple is getting a worse evil empire than MS ever was. Natural process of action and reaction I guess. Anyway, a trial would be popcorn fun. I bet the Jobs Mails about "Destroying Android" will be prominently featured as typical Apple way of doing business.

Just as light can't escape a black hole, no resolution will ever emerge from this kind of conversation. I think I'll veer off for now before I get sucked in. See ya.

Thanks.

-Phil

pasquale

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2012, 11:12:38 pm »
Your thinking is pretty muddled here. If your interest is in, say, encouraging competition (the heart of the "monopoly" argument), explain how what you object to hurts other platforms.

The answer to your question is elementary: by charging developers in a usurious way, Apple can get a lot of money and become richer than their competitors.
I'm beginning to love the Mac and hate Apple's money-hungry policy.

felipemdc

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2012, 11:27:19 pm »
I would suggest that you take this up elsewhere - this sort of the topic just tends to devolve into a semantic black hole conversation (and between non-attorneys no less, on a technical support forum).

Of course it is for employees of the EU institutions and the layers to judge the merit of this and see if action should be taken, but about that we should not discuss the issue I disagree. I think this is the right place. As a community we can always discuss issues that affect us.

In the case of Apple it is not only a matter of 1 thing. There is a clear pattern of getting each time worse. Each time more control. Each time less freedom. Each time more fees. Each time more forced upgrades. Each time faster planned obsolecense.....

Their new iniciative will severely affect small open source projects for example, for whom paying the $100 fee is a problem, since everything is distributed for free and donations might be even less then $100 a year, even for projects with hundreds of thousands of downloads per year.

Quote
In any case, here's what will happen if you submit something to the EU: at best you'll receive a polite form letter; probably you'll never hear from them.

That's not really relevant. Each does his part. Not to mention that such a request is not really 1 request. It is one of many requests. If enough people send, they will surely consider it.

Also besides the "Directorate-General for Competition" we can also contact our representatives in the European Parliament.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 11:09:24 am by felipemdc »

jwdietrich

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2012, 11:41:52 pm »
The answer to your question is elementary: by charging developers in a usurious way, Apple can get a lot of money and become richer than their competitors.

I fully understand your anger, but in a free market a company should have the freedom to become richer than its competitors. It cannot be the task of the European Commission to cut these normal market mechanisms (and even incentives).

I think the point is different. It is that Apple abuses its central position to urge developers to register. This is a nuisance and it may be a burden for independent developers. However, it might be quite difficult to enforce your interests on a legal recourse. However, it might be useful to inform EU institutions about this practice and to encourage an official investigation in this field.

It may be more promising, however, to use other ways to express your concerns. You could open an online-petition to Apple. And you could abstain from submitting your software to the App Store (giving a hint on your web site or in the documentation of your software how to make it usable).

The purpose of your petition could be to request Apple to either open the GateKeeper to signatures of third-party authorities (which are more expensive than the costs of the Apple Developer Program, however) or to keep the behaviour as it is in Leopard, Snow Leopard or Lion, i.e. informing the user that the program has an unknown source, but letting him or her the choice (without changing the system's preferences).

Although I am not convinced that the legal way will lead to success, it is time now to show Apple that its policy of control, increasing fees and planned obsolescence encounters resistance.
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marcov

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Re: Informing the European Commission on Apple's monopoly abuse
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2012, 12:13:43 am »
The answer to your question is elementary: by charging developers in a usurious way, Apple can get a lot of money and become richer than their competitors.

I fully understand your anger, but in a free market a company should have the freedom to become richer than its competitors. It cannot be the task of the European Commission to cut these normal market mechanisms (and even incentives).

But antitrust law typically centers around  leverage a strong position in one market (example in this context: you control and sell the OS) into another one (example in this context: apps). Note that I don't know if the examples I give in this context really work in the sense of the law. It might not be that the first (apple is owner of the OS) is not enough of a market to be a potential subject of regulation.

Playing advocate of the devil to my own tune, Apple didn't get sued for preferential treatment of its own mediaplayers wrt ITunes either.  Similar with music market. You could maybe easily substitute the above examples with older Apple markets (or MS with Zune)

OTOH, there people wanted to get entry to a new market, and are not getting kicked out of it as in this case.

Quote
It may be more promising, however, to use other ways to express your concerns. You could open an online-petition to Apple. And you could abstain from submitting your software to the App Store (giving a hint on your web site or in the documentation of your software how to make it usable).

The purpose of your petition could be to request Apple to either open the GateKeeper to signatures of third-party authorities (which are more expensive than the costs of the Apple Developer Program, however) or to keep the behaviour as it is in Leopard, Snow Leopard or Lion, i.e. informing the user that the program has an unknown source, but letting him or her the choice (without changing the system's preferences).

I doubt that will work. They knew it would cause an outrage, they did it anyway. Only something fairly major will make them change course, and no, I don't think some media noise in OSS circles will do much.
It will have to be something like an antitrust investigation, or a Vista like user revolt. But I don't consider the chances on that very high, most of the press is consumer oriented and currently cheerleading every move Apple makes. And in Apple's case there is no through more business oriented press, like there was with MS.

It will be a long road, and without Apple coming down from its current cloud (pun intended) will make them flexible and actually simply need 3rd party programmers again, nothing will happen. And, if the previous situation is anything to go  by, that can take a very, very long time.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 12:15:42 am by marcov »

 

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