EU commissioner warns Apple over iPhone's lack of interoperability

After fining Microsoft $1.4bl is Neelie Kroes after Jobs?

EU commissioner warns Apple over iPhone's lack of interoperability
American corporations know all about EU competition rules, but a comment from EU commissioner Neelie Kroes has suggested she's looking hard at the way Apple conduct its business.

Rethink Wireless reports Kroes – who has previously fined Microsoft $1.44 billion for a 'lack of openness' regarding its software – is concerned the smartphone market is too closed, with consumers constrained in terms of their software choices by their handsets. 

Flash for all?

"We need to make sure that significant market players cannot just choose to deny interoperability with their product," Kroes stated.

"This is particularly important in cases where standards don't exist. This is not just about Microsoft or any big company like Apple, IBM or Intel. The main challenge is that consumers need choice when it comes to software or hardware products."

Not only does this throw into question Apple's continued block on Flash on iOS, but it's also been suggested Kroes may be interested in looking into how iTunes operates, perhaps even demanding the software syncs with rival devices.

Of course, any such move against Apple would be expected to be replicated across the whole industry, with only open platforms – such as Android and Symbian – immune.

Apple on the agenda

The comments were made as part of an as-yet incomplete EU initiative called the Digital Agenda, which is drawing up new boundaries regarding antitrust rules.

Indeed, the Digital Agenda document itself seems to back up Kroes' statement, adding that the Commission is taking care to "examine the feasibility of measures that could lead significant market players to license interoperability information while at the same time promoting innovation and competition".

The EU is increasing wary of major players dominating, rather than leading, specific markets.

Still, at the moment, this situation is best filed as highly speculative, especially as Apple would point out it's not a market leader either globally or in Europe (both Nokia), or North America (RIM)

[source: Rethink Wireless]

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.