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Devices/smartphones

Apple, Apps, Ads, Antitrust & Adobe

1:35 PM -- There may be more to Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs's diatribe against Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) Flash, and it may have a lot to do with an antitrust inquiry by the Federal Trade Commission or the Justice Department. (See Jobs Offers 6 Reasons Adobe Sucks and Adobe Fires Back: We Don’t Need Apple.)

According to the New York Post's sources, the FTC and Justice Dept. are negotiating which will get to go after Apple, which is being targeted for its proprietary app development policies.

Apple requires software developers to build apps based on its own programming tools, so that they can’t run on multiple operating systems. It claims this is to ensure quality, but the FTC and Justice Dept. think it may be anti-competitive. Regulators are also worried about the way Apple plans to use data garnered from its new iAd platform.

Adobe is one company that should be happy about this, and it also could explain why Jobs choose now to launch an assault against its Flash technology. Apple needed an explanation for its exclusion of Flash; and blaming the technology, not the business case, supports its position that Apple is only out for its users' best interests.

Adobe’s shares fell 2 percent when Jobs's letter went out last week on Thursday, suggesting that Apple does indeed affect competition -- with its products and its words. Adobe was prepping to show its Packager for iPhone, tools to make it easier for developers to make iPhone apps with Adobe’s software, around the same time Jobs's missive hit the wires. It’s now focusing its efforts on Android, swapping out employees’ iPhones for Android devices and bringing Flash to Android-based touchscreen tablets .

If the inquiry turns into a full-fledged investigation, it could have important implications for the mobile app industry, mobile marketing, and competition in general. CNet had a good wrap-up of the facts on its site, noting that regulators likely want to move before Apple, relatively small in marketshare today, becomes a real monopoly on the market.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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