Has Apple bitten off more than it can chew? Apple, known for being overprotective of its products, may have taken its application xenophobia too far, as evidenced by a few recent modifications to its App Store developer agreement.

A little background may be necessary: Apple iPhones (without being jail broken — recently found a legally acceptable way to use your iPhone) only allow users to download applications from the “App Store.” The App Store is a application gateway to which Apple can approve or bar applications from being made available for download. In this way, Apple can “protect” iPhone users from “harmful” applications. In reality, Apple uses this application approval system to keep iPhone users from using its competitor’s programs. And this is where it may have gone too far.

Two recent modifications to Apple’s developer agreement (the contract program authors must accede to in order to have their apps hosted in the App Store) have made it increasingly harder for developers to use Apple’s competitor’s tools. The first change essentially barred developers from using Adobe’s development engines to design their applications. The second change limited the type of data that an application could collect, in turn killing any chances of Google advertising in iPhone apps.

The FTC recently opened an investigation into whether Apple is engaging in anti-competitive behavior, to which the European Commission joined. Could this be the beginning of the end of Apple’s iron-fisted reign over who can and cannot develop applications for the iPhone (and iPad)? I think that all iPhone users can agree . . . we hope it is.

Chris Lantz

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