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Apple Antitrust Case Gets Green Light 365

SuperAlgae writes "The recent antitrust suit against Apple regarding iTunes and iPod has been approved to go forward. This is only the beginning of the process, but it does bring up some interesting questions about what defines a monopoly." From the article: "Slattery claimed that Apple's system freezes out competitors, and while one antitrust expert called it a long shot, another antitrust law professor said that the key to such a lawsuit would be convincing a court that a single product brand like iTunes is a market in itself separate from the rest of the online music market."
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Apple Antitrust Case Gets Green Light

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  • Two Posts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:44PM (#14707277) Journal
    I can see the two types of posts that will ensue from this article.

    Type A: This is another shill lawsuit brought against a corporation for playing the capitalism game. It's not their fault that they are so successful at raking in cash, leave them alone.

    Type B: It's about time we realized how horrible a monopoly this company has going for them. If we hope to have a healthy market in this area, we need to split them up and make them compete for the customer's benefit.

    In reality, there's a happy medium that we should be striving for. Where the Apple lawsuit falls, I'm not sure. Hopefully the judge can decide that and do the system some justice.

    The American justice system has developed a set of laws that seem to be in the middle and have satisfied both sides. Unfortunately for Apple, it's hard to interpret what is and isn't a monopoly. Fortunately for Apple, companies like Microsoft that have violated anti-trust laws seemingly escaped unscathed through great legal action and repeals. So it's a matter of how much resource can you throw at it. Don't ignore it like Mama Bell did way back when or there may be baby Apples (Applets? lol) competing against each other with Mac users completely confused as to which flavor of Apple they want.
    • The way Apple runs its iPod business is the same way it runs it Macintosh unit: vertical integration. They want to be responsible for all aspects of the product from software to hardware, and in the case of the iPod, ensuring the content comes from the "correct" place to work with its unit. If we do not label the Macintosh hardware/software model as a "monopoly", then we should not label the iPod as such either. Haggador Sparticus
    • Type B: It's about time we realized how horrible a monopoly this company has going for them. If we hope to have a healthy market in this area, we need to split them up and make them compete for the customer's benefit.

      Type C: Apple isn't a monopoly but is practicing illegal monopolistic practices and the ruling forces apple to lead competitors use iPods (see Real and Napster) or stop using its fairplay DRM.

      But I don't know if its illegal or not. Thats for the courts to decide.
      • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @02:33PM (#14708774) Homepage Journal
        Apple first added DRM to the AAC files provided by the iTunes store, because of requirments set about but the RIAA. Without their DRM, Apple would not have been allowed to distribute music. On the other hand if DRM was never mandated by the music industry then we would not be in this mess.

        Apple could have used WMA, but this is a closed specification, to which Microsoft holds the keys. It is also not a format that provides people with a very good quality of audio. AAC is still a lossy format too, but it is still better than WMA, IMHO. At the same time it should be noted that the DRM that Apple is using, known as FairPlay, is actually one of the more liberal DRMs out there.

        Apple also has the iPod which whose only supported DRMed file format is the AAC+FairPlay, which is sourced from the iTunes music store. The iPod because of its simplicity of design and usage, has grown to be an extremly popular media player and its popularity doesn't seem to stop. Whether it is the iPod itself or the iPod+iTunes combination, is another discussion. It should also be noted that the iTunes+iPod combination has trounced every other solution, even the 'huge MP3 player selection'+'many WMA based stores' solution. Heck, even Sony tried this with their 'media player'+'sony connect store' solution, which flaked because of a badly designed UI, poor media format and average media players. Something else that should be noted is how few of them actually support the Mac platform and require IE!?

        So that is the background of the current situation. In many ways Apple is in the situation it is in now because of what has happened around it. Apple had taken advantage of that situation to be where it its today. Apple could license WMA on the iPod, hence helping other stores sell their music, but why would Apple want to pay money to lose money? On the other hand Apple could license out FairPlay, which is the one I would go with, and would encourage. But then again is anyone else, other than Apple, actually supporting the MP4 audio format, known as AAC?

        Something else that should be mentioned is: that any time the DRM in FairPlay gets circumvented Apple can easily make changes without upsetting other media player manufacturers or file publishers.

        Just as an added note, Real did provide a hack to allow the iPod to play their format, but Apple was having none of this. Here there is clearly reason to feel that Apple was not being open in allowing Real onboard, since it doesn't sound like Real was going to charge Apple for that privilage.

        The truth is, however much I feel Apple should probably open up FairPlay and even let other parties put their codecs on the iPod, I feel that a few other things should also happen:
            - companies should make better media Players, in terms of looks and useability (only Creative comes close)
            - music distributors should stop mandating the Windows+IE combination
            - The RIAA should come up with its own DRM that offers the same advantages as FairPlay, since in the end they are mostly responsible for the situation we are in. Forcing people to use WMA is not an answer.

        • Personally, I have an iPod specifically because it's NOT Microsoft. I view WMA capability as an undesirable feature and choose products that don't have it. I realize that I fall into a small group of users, most iPod's sell because "that's what P Diddy or my cousin Bob has", but I go with non-MS solutions whenever possible. That said, I think your point about an "open" DRM managed by the RIAA (I know ... I'll burn in hell) is probably the panacea to all this. They can manage the private keys and just just l
      • Re:Errr... Its C (Score:5, Insightful)

        by feijai ( 898706 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @02:44PM (#14708938)
        Type C: Apple isn't a monopoly but is practicing illegal monopolistic practices
        By definition, you can't be practicing "illegal monopolistic practices" unless you're a monopoly.
    • Re:Two Posts (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jbolden ( 176878 )
      Mama bell didn't ignore it. It won repeatedly starting in the 1950's and only lost in the early 80's. Their problem was:

      1) They were a monopoly
      2) They did lock everyone else out
      3) They were popular and the public liked them so politically there wasn't much push to break them up.
       
    • For that matter (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bradleyland ( 798918 )
      For that matter, their entire business model is a "Monopoly(TM)". The iTunes/iPod model isn't much different from the OSX/iMac/PowerMac/iBook/... model. Apple doesn't specifically make provisions for installing other operating systems on the hardware they sell, and you can't easily install their operating system on other hardware.
    • Re:Two Posts (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, I am more of type C:
      C. Monopoly in itself is not illegal. What's illegal is abusing monopoly to prevent others from competing.

      Now, if Apple obtained a monopoly on iPod and then tied it up with iTunes so that no other competitors can compete with iTunes, they have a point. But the fact of the matter is, iPod and iTunes were tied up long before each of them gained a 'monopoly' status. Where is the abuse in that?
    • Hey, they did it to MS and now they are doing it to Apple. Now I want to see all you MS naysayers jumping on Apple's back. Cause you know, half the people who argue with me about MS being a monopoly always say "But the gov't ruled they were a monopoly, so there"...like the gov't knows it's face from its ass.

      Apple iPOD/iTunes is not a monopoly because there are OTHER options (Napster music download for one, other MP3 players like Rio,Sony, take your pick). The same thing with MS - they are not a monopol
      • Re:Two Posts (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jedidiah ( 1196 )
        The important distinction here is that there is not currently a monopoly in any aspect of what apple delivers with the ipod. Players are plentiful. Pay music services are plentiful. It's just the Apple fanboys that think that the ipod is the only solution that exists. The ipod could certainly shape up as something that pushes everyone else out of the market but it's not quite there yet.

        It's all remarkably ironic considering that some Apple fanboys are currently gloat
    • Or type Z (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DirkK ( 123364 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:15PM (#14710586)
      This is ridiculous.

      In the 'glory' years of the New Economy no part of the music industry was able to build an working online music store, parctically leaving this market to early Napster and Kazaa. Then they bought Napster, sued Kazaa and the likes and still they weren't able to build up an online music store.

      Then came Apple and proved them all wrong. And now it's a monopoly?
  • Hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:45PM (#14707300) Journal
    Makes no sense to me, but then Judge Jackson made a similar decision to define x86-based PC's as a distinct market which was monopolized by Microsoft, which also made no sense to me.
    • Exactly (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LeonGeeste ( 917243 )
      That's how anti-trust laws get abused. You can call anything a monopoly if you restrict your definition of "its market" well enough. In the Windows case, it was "MS has a monopoly on OS's ... for x86 computers ... that people use at home ... and not as servers". I've heard of cases where someone was called a monopoly because he "dominated" the market for "dough ... that comes ready-made ... for pizzas ... in the Salt Lake City limits ... after 10pm". Strictly speaking, everyone is a monopoly. I have a
      • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

        by JesseMcDonald ( 536341 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @03:50PM (#14709734) Homepage

        The only question of any real importance is "Did the government create this monopoly?"

        • Telcos, Federal Reserve: Yes.
        • Local cable companies: Maybe. (Depends on the local policies in effect.)
        • Microsoft: Maybe. (Enforcing copyright may count as interference.)
        • The corner store: No.

        There is no way to uniquely define "monopoly prices" or "monopoly behavior" except as a function of interference by someone with more power/authority than the company itself. Monopolies in a free market -- a market without such interference -- only exist in cases where the monopoly is more efficient than competition would be. If they become less efficient, a competitor will eventually arise to capitalize on their "monopoly profits" and choice will be restored. Only in a non-free market can an inefficient monopoly remain prominent.

        For a more thorough analysis of this fact, see Chapter 10 of Man, Economy, & State [mises.org] by Murray N. Rothbard.

        • Re:Exactly (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dustmite ( 667870 )

          If they become less efficient, a competitor will eventually arise to capitalize on their "monopoly profits" and choice will be restored.

          The keyword here is "eventually" though ... the question is, how long?

          The problem with (some) monopolies is that, even if they become inefficient, they may as a result of their position be able to influence the market in a way that allows them to manipulate and distort a "free" market into a "not free" market. Not to harp on the Microsoft case again, but it's a good exam

          • Re:Exactly (Score:3, Interesting)

            That link I posted before covered most of the major ways in which a company might try to maintain its position in the market. The eventual conclusion is that all the common "monopolistic" techniques are bad for business, and aren't sustainable in the long term, whereas the pressure from upstart competitors remains as long as the monopoly exists. Eventually their reserves wear down until they can't afford to fight any more.

            To take Microsoft for example: very few people would still consider them a monopoly.
            • Re:Exactly (Score:3, Insightful)

              by dustmite ( 667870 )

              It's true what you say. I think the DoJ judgements had very little effect at all on Microsoft, but slowly (but surely) the market itself is waking up and looking for (and offering) better/cheaper alternatives - there are definitely signs of this, and a little bit of "healthy colour" seems to be returning to what until recently looked like a rather pale sickly market (IMO). I think Microsoft will need to start adapting in the longer term (one problem is their corporate culture is anti-innovation, so instead

    • No. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, the market in question was "the consumer operating system market". The fact that consumer computer operating systems were, by and large, running on computers which are x86es in 1999 is roughly as relevant as the fact that they were, by and large, running on computers which are beige. The Microsoft antitrust case wasn't about Microsoft monopolizing computers which were beige, beige plastic was just a property of one tangential detail of the market(s) Microsoft monopolized.

      But, hey, you can belittle anyth
      • by Otter ( 3800 )
        No, the market in question was "the consumer operating system market".

        But, hey, you can belittle anything if you simplify it to one sentence, I guess.

        Yup, and here's that one sentence from the ruling:

        DOJ proposed and the District Court Judge agreed that the relevant antitrust market was the market for operating systems for personal computers that are based on an Intel-compatible Central Processing Unit ("CPU").
  • by danaris ( 525051 ) <danaris&mac,com> on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:46PM (#14707312) Homepage

    ...convincing a court that a single product brand like iTunes is a market in itself separate from the rest of the online music market.

    How does that even make sense?

    If the lawyers somehow succeed in this, every company will be a monopoly!

    Ford will have a monopoly on Ford trucks!
    Dell will have a monopoly on Dell computers!
    Whirlpool will have a monopoly on Whirlpool refrigerators!

    ...and so on, ad even more nauseam.

    In all seriousness, can anyone with some kind of legal background give us *some* idea of how a judge could even consider this? (Cpt. Kangarooski, maybe?)

    Dan Aris

    • The concept that seems to be eluding you is interoperability.
    • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:56PM (#14707453)
      It's worse than that.

      Ford may have a "monopoly" on Ford Trucks, but the iTunes "monopoly" would be a monopoly on... what, exactly?

      I mean, you can buy the exact same song from any of a number of other on-line sellers, or buy the CD itself from any of thousands of stores across the country, but only from iTunes can you get a copy of the song which was sold by iTunes.

      Wilco
      Charlie
      Foxtrot
      ?
    • After reading some posts here, I think the idea is that there's a tight integration of iTunes and the iPod. The only real way to buy music legally online (for the vast majority of music) is through iTunes. IIRC music from iTunes will only play on iPod music players. Sure you can burn it to CD, and then re-rip to mp3, but I think that's really missing the point. The vast majority of consumers just aren't going to go through all that hassle.

      This is where the idea of unfair competition comes from, since Ap
      • by binary paladin ( 684759 ) <binarypaladin@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:47PM (#14708188)
        I think the 360 comparison is dead on. iTunes music is specifically created to play on iTunes and iPods. Take a game that's on multiple systems like Prince of Persia. It isn't specifically designed to play on one system, only a particular port is. All the music is still available from buying regular old CDs or through other online music vendors. You might as well say it's okay for a company that only sells tape decks to be able to sue another company that's producing CD players for being monopolistic. Was Sony ever sued over minidisc? Should they have been? No. These are the kinds of lawsuits which waste everyone's time and clog the system up for the legitimate ones that come down the pike. It's so stupid. "Sure you can burn it to CD, and then re-rip to mp3, but I think that's really missing the point. The vast majority of consumers just aren't going to go through all that hassle." I want to put a '85 Chevy 350 in my '83 Toyota 4x4 for offroading. It's not an easy thing to do and I have to go through a lot of hassle and adaptation to get it to work. Can Chevy be sued for a monopoly on their own engines? No. It's stupid.
      • by danaris ( 525051 ) <danaris&mac,com> on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:48PM (#14708191) Homepage

        After reading some posts here, I think the idea is that there's a tight integration of iTunes and the iPod. The only real way to buy music legally online (for the vast majority of music) is through iTunes. IIRC music from iTunes will only play on iPod music players. Sure you can burn it to CD, and then re-rip to mp3, but I think that's really missing the point. The vast majority of consumers just aren't going to go through all that hassle

        1. You can buy music online from other music stores--Rhapsody, Napster, etc (I don't know all of them, 'cause I don't listen to mainstream music, but they're there).
        2. You can play iTMS music on any Mac or Windows computer (I think they've got iTunes running on Linux under Crossover Office, but I'm not sure), as well as on any iPod.
        3. You can also burn it to CD to listen to it on any ordinary CD player.
        4. There are also programs available to strip the DRM, but, as you note, most people aren't going to bother.

        The only reason that there's seen to be a problem here is that the iPod is the most popular digital music player, by a long way. If it held only, say, 35% of the market, with (for example) the Nomad taking another 30% and the other players splitting the remaining 35%, no one would be complaining about this. The iPod has become most popular purely through marketing and good design, not through any shady underhanded deals, like telling OEMs they won't be getting any more iPods if they sell other music players. Apple has leveraged nothing but its aesthetics (and a certain amount of cool-factor) to gain this spot in the market.

        Which is still only a monopoly if you define the "market" to be the iTunes Music Store.

        Dan Aris


        • # You can buy music online from other music stores--Rhapsody, Napster, etc (I don't know all of them, 'cause I don't listen to mainstream music, but they're there).

          That's true, but does Apple effectively have a monopoly on the market for digital music? I can't answer that question since I really don't buy digital music. The existance of competition doesn't mean Apple doesn't have a monopoly. Linux is an alternative OS for x86 computers, but that doesn't mean Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly on Windows.


          Y
          • simple. It shows that you dont HAVE to buy a iPod to listen to the music you have other ways to go about it which dont involve the iPod and thus the iPod is not being forced onto people.
          • '' That's true, but does Apple effectively have a monopoly on the market for digital music? I can't answer that question since I really don't buy digital music. The existance of competition doesn't mean Apple doesn't have a monopoly. Linux is an alternative OS for x86 computers, but that doesn't mean Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly on Windows. ''

            When you discuss monopolies, you have to check how the fact that one company has a large marketshare influences your decision.

            If you decide which music player to
  • Was anyone else offended/confused that Ars Technica writes an article with Judge James Ware [paloaltoonline.com] in it yet puts a picture up of Judge Judy [judgejudy.com]?

    I'm not an idiot, you know.

    It's almost like they're saying, "You don't know what a judge looks like, so we're going to give you the only image you can conceive a judge having."
  • It's nonsense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DisownedSky ( 905171 ) *

    I always thought the point of antitrust law was not to punish busineses for being successful, but for using "unfair" tactics to dominate a market. Apple weren't the first into online music, but they were the first to nail the formula.

    Since the ultimate outcome of the Microsoft antitrust suit is that you can use unfair tactics and get just about clean away with it, maybe we should junk the whole business. I don't see whom antitrust law really benefits.

    • Well, (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Create an Account ( 841457 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:25PM (#14707870)
      Lawyers.
    • Re:It's nonsense (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SydShamino ( 547793 )
      Since the ultimate outcome of the Microsoft antitrust suit is that you can use unfair tactics and get just about clean away with it, maybe we should junk the whole business. I don't see whom antitrust law really benefits.

      And since OJ showed you can commit murder and get just about clean away with it, we should scrap the whole criminal justice system. /sarcasm

      Seriously, stopping unfair business practices is one of the things that even a libertarian should want from their government. The free market cannot e
      • *And no, "if the consumers don't like the trust they can just buy from someone else" isn't a valid reply. For it to be a monopoly convicted of antitrust violations, the holder of the monopoly must be using their leverage to actively prevent competition, depriving consumers of the opportunity to purchase alternative products.
        • Son of monkey bitches... that was supposed to be

          And no, "if the consumers don't like the trust they can just buy from someone else" isn't a valid reply. For it to be a monopoly convicted of antitrust violations, the holder of the monopoly must be using their leverage to actively prevent competition, depriving consumers of the opportunity to purchase alternative products.

          Under that specific definition I'd say Microsoft wasn't a monopoly, all they did was have IE on the workstation already, it didn't deprive
      • Seriously, stopping unfair business practices is one of the things that even a libertarian should want from their government. The free market cannot exist in places where the market is manipulated, such as due to trusts or fraud, and there is no one that can stop it like the government.*

        The trouble is that the government is a monopoly that uses trusts, fraud, and even violence as a buisness practice. We are not saying that a Microsoft "Monopoly" is good, we are wondering who is worse, the U.S. government or
  • by viniosity ( 592905 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:48PM (#14707336) Homepage Journal
    IANAL but if I recall, it's not illegal to be a monopoly. However it IS illegal to use your monopoly to extend unfairly into other areas. Hence, if MS earned a monopoly in the OS market that is ok but if they use it to create a monopoly for browsers or office software then *that* is illegal.
    • Which basically says Apple hasn't done anything wrong. All right, you can't play WMA tunes on other devices, but you CAN play MP3's on iPod, and you can use RealPlayer to manage it in addition to iTunes.

      This really isn't much different from Palm devices and the Palm Desktop.
      • bullshit arguement (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekee ( 591277 )
        "All right, you can't play WMA tunes on other devices, but you CAN play MP3's on iPod, and you can use RealPlayer to manage it in addition to iTunes."

        No one can sell legal music from the major labels in mp3 format, so that's a bullshit arguement. No one can make a music player that plays songs bought from iTMS. Apple is clearly leveraging their monopoly. If you think MS is guilty, then you should come to the same conclusion for Apple.

    • However it IS illegal to use your monopoly to extend unfairly into other areas. Hence, if MS earned a monopoly in the OS market that is ok but if they use it to create a monopoly for browsers or office software then *that* is illegal.

      It's a little more broad than that, but your example is essentially correct. I believe what's illegal is using your monopoly power to unfairly squash competition. Microsoft could have fairly competed in the browser market and remained within the law. But when they start figh
  • There is a difference between monopolies. The ones that are reached using innovation (and marketing) and the ones reached using illegal (and unethically) means. Of course, there is a blurred line inbetween.
  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <akaimbatman@ g m ail.com> on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:50PM (#14707373) Homepage Journal
    I'm just outright amazed at the gall of some people. A lawsuit claiming anti-trust violations? What antitrust violations? Vertical integration alone is not sufficient to claim anti-trust. You actually have to show that Apple is actively locking competitors out of the market, something they simply aren't doing. Apple's player plays the standard industry formats including MP3 and AAC. The fact that they don't support a competitor's format (Microsoft Windows Media) is not unfair to the market.

    In addition (correct me if I'm wrong here), Apple has made absolutely no move against those who have cracked the FairPlay DRM, such as the move that RealNetworks made a short while back. Apple has protected against non-iTunes programs accessing their online store, but usually with minimal fuss and argument.

    So in short, what exactly is the case?

    • So in short, what exactly is the case?

      That's exactly what I'm wondering here. The article didn't really address that question, and seemed more intent on this seemingly ridiculous idea that Apple needs to have a monopoly on selling things called the iPod. Huh? All that needs to happen is that Apple needs to be declared a monopoly on digital music players, and they need to have stiffled competition. What does having a monopoly on a single brand have to do with anything?

      I really have no idea if Apple has d
    • Apple has made absolutely no move against those who have cracked the FairPlay DRM

      IIRC, RealNetworks didn't crack the DRM, but reverse-engineered it, so that you could play DRM'ed RealMedia files on an iPod. Which Apple threw a hissy fit about, threatened legal action, and broke with the next firmware update. That seems pretty damn anti-competitive to me.

    • In addition (correct me if I'm wrong here), Apple has made absolutely no move against those who have cracked the FairPlay DRM, such as the move that RealNetworks made a short while back.

      You're wrong. [arstechnica.com]
  • Makes Sense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by courtarro ( 786894 )
    iTMS and the iPod are two separate products that work exclusively with each other. Have lots of iTunes music purchased? It won't play on anyone else's music device (the ROKR is negligible). Have an iPod? Better get your music from iTunes, 'cause PlaysForSure files won't play on it. Much like the Canon v. Nikon world of cameras and lenses, if you buy a camera from one company, those extra lenses will have to come from the same company. However, competition is healthy and booming in the professional photograp
    • Have an iPod? Better get your music from iTunes

      BS. I have two full iPods and have never purchased any music online, iTunes or anywhere else.

    • Re:Makes Sense (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eobanb ( 823187 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:10PM (#14707674) Homepage
      iTMS and the iPod are two separate products that work exclusively with each other.

      Exactly. This is no more a monopoly than the XBox 360 + Windows Media Center is a monopoly. If the XBox was the only game console out there, I could understand. But it isn't, there's the PS2 or the GameCube.

      The iPod + iTunes is just one of many other combinations, like a Sony player and Sony Connect.

      This lawsuit is--no other way to really say it--idiotic.

      How many /.ers have iPods that they wish could use Napster or a competing music store to purchase songs with different rights or improved quality?

      So go buy a compact disc, or buy from a music store with a product unencumbered by DRM.

      --Eoban
    • Re:Makes Sense (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lord_Pain ( 165272 )
      Grow up.

      However, in the iTMS + iPod world, these are two separate products that each have a strongly dominant hold on their respective markets, which also monopolistically exclude all competition from functioning with either product. I say it's about time someone looked at this case. How many /.ers have friends who bought a non-iPod mp3 player only to find out that none of their Fairplay-encrypted songs will play on it? How many /.ers have iPods that they wish could use Napster or a competing music store to
      • I know people who fit the previous case (bought a Creative player and discovered that m4p files won't play on it), and the alternate case is people who want to buy a better player but can't get all their music because iTunes has exclusive rights with some artists, like the Eagles.
    • iTMS and the iPod are two separate products that work exclusively with each other. Have lots of iTunes music purchased? It won't play on anyone else's music device (the ROKR is negligible).

      So? It doesn't prevent you from playing the music back in your CD player OR to go out and buy another device and buy your music from a different store.

      However, competition is healthy and booming in the professional photography world. Some have likened this to the desktop PC world too, but it again falls short because so m

    • iTunes is the one product, iPod is meant to be a convenience extension of it.
      iTMS is another convenience add-on to iTunes.

      Lots of music from many sources, (though not all) can be played in iTunes and by extension on an iPod.

      I think the thing to remember is that the iPod technically is an accessory to iTunes, not the other way around.

      If you don't like iTunes, then an iPod isn't for you. Fashionable as they might be...
  • by trimsyndicate ( 863819 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:03PM (#14707565) Homepage
    How come no one has sued Microsoft for making xbox games unplayable on a playstation? Or Nintendo for not allowing gamecube games to work on a pc? It seems the concept is the same: I have a hardware platform (game console, ipod) and I have content that works on said content platform (games, itunes tracks). There's nothing illegal about the fact that I'd have to buy 2 versions of Madden if I wanted to play it on my xbox and on my playstation... This just seems silly to me.
    • You're almost right -- it's the lockout of XBox Live to PS2 users that would be the better analogy to the iTunes/iPod/ITMS situation.

      But as others have said, just because you can't play Madden06 on your PS2 against somebody around the world on their XBox via XBox Live doesn't mean that MSFT has a monopoly on online gaming environments.

      My opinion? It's the marketplace that has created this so-called monopoly. If the product wasn't good and easy to use, people wouldn't buy into it and they'd find the ne

  • by TonyXL ( 33244 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:22PM (#14707829) Journal
    Note to everyone: Don't become successful, or we will seek to destroy you. Signed: unproductive, greedy, envious socialists.
  • Why do I need and iPod? A record turntable on the back seat of my car with springs, dampers and a weighted tonearm is fine with me. OK, I wear out a copy of Dark Side of the Moon in a few months, but its cheaper than spending money on one of those MD-3 thingies.
  • Apple should decide how much profit it makes from each iPod, and that amount is the licensing fee for others to build compatible hardware. It shouldn't matter to Apple if they get their money through their own h/w sales, or from fees because someone else has built a competitive or cheaper unit.

    As far as the download business goes, in theory no legal download site is getting their product on terms any more favorable than Apple. Apple should charge a reasonable (e.g. $0.03 per download) royalty for the us

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:58PM (#14708321) Journal
    ... and it plays on my iPod.

    I bought CDs, ripped them using iTunes and put them on my iPod.

    So how am I forced to use iTMS?

    Admittedly I would like to see Fairplay licensed to other music store providers, as Apple has got the vast majority of the portable music market now. However it hasn't got it by foul means, simply by having a better product that people want.

    Is 'music for iPods' a distinct market from 'music for portable music players'?

    Are consumers getting harmed? Arguably iTMS is the most usable online music store. iTunes is the most usable music application. iPod is the most usable player. Nobody is forcing you to buy an iPod, use iTunes, or shop from iTMS. There are other options and they aren't niche - there's hundreds of WMA capable players on the market that can play DRM-encrusted WMA music from other stores. There's dozens of WMA music stores online.
  • by Anonymous Custard ( 587661 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @02:00PM (#14708347) Homepage Journal
    The iTunes music store is not needed to use your iPod. I have filled my 20gb iPod and have bought MAYBE 10 songs from iTunes. The rest were from CD's that I own or concerts that I downloaded (fan-recordings) or purchased (sound board recordings). Those 10 songs I bought could have just as easily been purchased on CD Albums or Singles. So where does the monopoly come in?

    If other online stores want to sell music that works on the iPod, they can sell standard MP3's (like http://livephish.com/ [livephish.com]), and they'll work just fine.
  • Otherwise it's stupid and discriminatory to fry a small potato, especially since any competitor can offer the same music catalog as iTunes (and if not, that's recording company's fault, not Apple's), while Windows competitors can not offer the same selection of apps as MS.
  • I think that without a doubt Apple is a major innovator. But I think they in some ways hold back the industry, because they don't like to play with others so to speak. I envisioned FairPlay as becoming the next standard in music licenses back a while ago, but Apple's strict control didn't allow that. Just as DVD needed a standard, so do MP3 players, and as long as a majority of legit songs use a secure format most brands of players can't play w/o conversion, this won't work well.
  • I believe that the case isn't going to go in this guy's favor. But, let's just assume for a moment that the judge ultimately rules that the combination of iTMS and iPod have given Apple and unfair monopoly in the digital music marketplace, just what does the plaintiff expect to have happen? What sorts of measures would the judge impose to soften Apple's alleged monopoly?
  • Wouldn't it be sweet for the courts to rule that DRM is unconstitutional and it must be removed from all digital media! Thats the problem and we can blame the RIAA for it. Of course, now they don't like the fact that Apple has so much influence and wields so much power for digital music. And I don't see Apple removing DRM anytime soon since they've found out that DRM is not about preventing piracy, its about vendor lock-in. So maybe the courts will come through for us.
  • The main reason I think that the case is allowed to go forward is that there is an interesting legal question here. At what point does vertical integration equate to an illegal monopoly? At the surface, there are enough facts to support it going forward. Admittedly Apple has tight integration between it's store and it's iPod product, and the system does lock out competitors. The lockout however is not total, and there are workarounds so that a consumer can use any MP3 player and the store or use another
  • clever marketing of a proprietary product is monopolistic?! hell no! the competitors could (and are) creating products that mimic the success of the ipod, but they can't make a budge, because apple's made a name for themselves, not because they've been doing anything monopolistic. it IS a long shot, and with due reason -- its not a monopoly, just a successful product. because a company decides to only let their software work with their product is nothing new. look at sony with the minidisc. after all, you C
  • Apple is a monopoly in this area. Or, more specifically, they hold "monopoly power" - which is all the law (apparently - IANAL, and IANAA; the last A is American) requires.

    I think it can be successfully argued that Apple does hold monopoly power - iTunes is the dominant online music store, and the iPod is the dominant portable music player.. and both are incompatible with any other music player/store. Apple has refused to support protected wma in the iPod, and has refused to license the fairplay DRM to ot

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