The Obama administration has made economic recovery a priority, but unfortunately the Administration is continuing a practice that has the opposite economic effect -- targeting America’s prize technology companies with vague antitrust laws. Last year, it was the Federal Trade Commission demanding Intel license its future technologies to competitors. Qualcomm, Google and Microsoft have also recently received federal antitrust scrutiny.
And now, federal regulators are investigating Apple over equally absurd allegations of antitrust violations. These attacks and aspersions on our best companies are harmful to our national interest on many levels. The very companies under investigation are the same companies fueling the economy and creating millions of jobs. Forcing them to spend resources better used for building the next generation of wealth-creating products is poor policy.
The FTC’s latest tinkering involves Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod – three of the most wildly successful and innovative products on the market. Besides their practical usefulness, the ingenuity behind these products is they allow third-party developers to create their own software applications, or “apps.” In just two years, independent developers have created a majority of the more than 80,000 apps for the iPhone.
According to one study, there are some $200 million worth of apps sold in Apple’s iTunes store every month, or $2.4 billion a year. Every one of these apps allows users to do something easier, such as track contacts, search for restaurants and even manage their portfolios. Think of all the economic activity these Apple products and their accompanying apps generate, and not just for Apple.
But because Apple has set some conditions on their products, such as requiring developers to use certain Apple tools, competitors are complaining – which is enough to get the FTC and Justice Department to swoop down from their regulatory perches. It is horrifying that the U.S. government would seek to confine a company which in the last few years has produced so much innovation and so many jobs.