Antitrust probe over Apple Flash stance

Apple may face an antitrust inquiry into its recent directive forcing iPhone and iPad app developers to ditch Adobe Flash Player.

According to a report in The New York Post, the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have entered negotiations over which of the two will handle the probe into the IT giant’s attempt to force developers to use only Apple programming tools.

Sources say authorities are only days away from launching an inquiry.

Apple's move came after Adobe was forced to issue an embarrassing apology for not having fixed known, long-term bugs in the software.

Writing in his personal blog at the end of April, Adobe's Mike Chambers took a swipe at Apple for a recent update to the iPhone developers’ licence that sees app designers barred from using Flash CS5, along with a number of other third-party APIs.

The war of words escalated, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ eye-watering response to Adobe’s protests led the Flash creator to announce it had given up on Apple. In future, the company said, it would concentrate on developing Flash tools that would work on all rival devices.

Jobs had already sparked controversy for telling journalists from the Wall Street Journal that Flash would reduce the phone’s battery life from ten hours down to just an hour and a half.

The inquiry will focus on whether Apple’s policy, which came into effect last month, hampers competition by forcing programmers to choose between developing apps that can run only on Apple devices, and creating ones that are platform-neutral, also running on devices using rival operating systems such as Google’s Android.