Other reports today claimed that the discussions at the DOJ and the FTC were sparked by a complaint from Adobe. Bloomberg reported that Adobe protested to officials at the agencies that Apple is stifling competition by blocking software developers from using Adobe's tools to create software for the iPhone and iPad.
Adobe today repeated its "no comment" of yesterday. Both the DOJ and the FTC have also declined comment.
Adobe and Apple have been embroiled in a public relations battle since early last month, when Apple changed the licensing agreement for its iPhone 4 SDK to ban developers from using cross-platform compilers, tools that let them write in one development framework -- say, Adobe's Flash -- and then recompile their work in native code for another platform, such as the iPhone.
Most analysts agreed that Apple's move was aimed right at Adobe and the cross-platform compiler included in its Flash Professional CS5, which the company rolled out in final form just days after Apple's SDK change. Two weeks ago, Adobe acknowledged it was the target when it canceled future development of the compiler.
Last week, Jobs dismissed Flash as "no longer necessary" on mobile devices, and wrote at length in an open letter about why Adobe's development tool was being banned. In response, Adobe's chief technology officer said the company was giving up on bringing Flash to the iPhone and iPad media tablet.
Yesterday, Sterling said it was unlikely that the government would be able to make antitrust charges stick, in large part because the company's iPhone does not have a monopoly on the smartphone market.
Apple has been investigated by federal regulators before. Last year, for example, the FTC opened an inquiry into whether Apple and Google violated antitrust laws by sharing directors, a move that prompted Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, to resign from the Apple board of directors.
Apple has also faced civil antitrust lawsuits, most notably in 2008, when Mac clone maker Psystar accused Apple of abusing the monopoly it has in the Mac market. Several months later, a federal judge tossed Psystar's antitrust claims.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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