The Gig's Up, Jobs: EU Law Might Force Apple to Allow Flash and Open iTunes

You’re one of the five people in the civilized world who own a Zune, right? Well, good news – you may soon be able to sync it with iTunes. Seriously. This is a thing.

In an attempt to save the world and all its inhabitants, three Mortal Kombatants have been chosen the European Union has drafted up a document it’s calling the Digital Agenda, the function of which is to serve the cause of interoperability, openness, and innovation in the tech world. I, for one, am precisely the opposite of not all for that. Behold, an excerpt:

Since not all pervasive technologies are based on standards the benefits of interoperability risk being lost in such areas. The Commission will examine the feasibility of measures that could lead significant market players to license interoperability information while at the same time promoting innovation and competition.

Basically, this means that companies created a walled-garden atmosphere could find themselves getting fingered. Particularly companies that rhyme with Snapple.

Should the document find itself approved, Apple may find itself with no choice but to among other things allow Flash onto iOS, and even the syncing of competing media players and smartphones with iTunes. Well, in Europe anyway. But should it happen there, it may quickly follow suit in North America, where we’ve been tightening the reigns on things like this for a bit now, too.

This isn’t the first time this sitch has found itself happening – Microsoft found itself waist-deep in poo awhile ago over its bundling of IE and Word with every PC sold. Apple’s just doing that. To the extreme. But this isn’t about punching Apple in the box – this is about creating competition, which some argue is what drives innovation in the tech world. Like, look at the iPad. Look at it. Seriously, look at it. Magical? Yes. Harbinger of innovation? Hardly.

Personally, I think this is an issue worth looking into, at the very least. As a purchaser of Apple products anyway, I’m already on the inside and don’t really suffer the effects, as I sit here writing from my Mac Pro, charging my iPod. I’m not fully qualified to comment. But maybe you are! Stand up! He heard! Should the EU be allowed to do this? Does Apple have the right to build its walls ever-higher? Comment box is right there. Take it for a spin, yeah? Just mind the leathers.

Written by Ty Dunitz

Ty is an illustrator who stays up too late, and has to wear glasses. You can follow him on Twitter if you want to (@glitchritual), but he's just gonna throw your stupid PR crap in the garbage, so don't email him.

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  • I have a WebOS smartphone. I would like to be able to sync some music and podcasts to my Pre from iTunes. When Palm released the Pre, they figured out a way to make iTunes think it was an iPod, but Apple fought back and updated iTunes to break this functionality.

  • Sprae

    Jobs would get Apple out of the EU if it means changing his products. I cannot see Jobs changing his vision for Apple. I would agree with him.

  • Eric Hadze

    If microsoft listens to the EU, u can be damn sure apple will too. If the EU were a country, it would be the wealthiest in the world by quite a bit, the type who’d buy apple products. jobs has pride, but he’s not stupid. o he’ll comply alright. and i think the EU is right, as it was with microsoft, because:

    I don’t like the built-in browser as it doesn’t support flash/ harware optimized flash, so the majority of interactive sites i goto are crippled, and apple forcefully bundles it with their phone. Not only that, but they won’t allow 3rd party developers to make apps that are better then their own offerings. Imagine being forced to buy a PC with the rubbish internet explorer and not even having the option to use something better, and if u try a workaround, microsoft sues you?! this is way more serious than what microsoft did.

    just my 2 cents

  • Brandon

    Props Eric, I’ve been basically saying the same thing for years now. Apple is and has been for some time now doing way worse than what Microsoft got sued for. I’ve been wondering why government hasn’t stepped in yet. They stopped Microsoft when they were ankle deep in this $#&* and apple is about to get their head wet.

  • Jeff Higgins

    The EU should, then, force Adobe to open source Flash as well. It isn’t a one way street. The whole issue is that Adobe is forcing adoption of its proprietary plugin. If Adobe actually cared about an open internet, it would open source Flash. Until it does that, there is reason Apple should feel obligated to support Flash on the iPhone, and no reason why the EU should concern itself with it, either.

    (As a side note, perhaps the EU’s time would be better spent sorting out its financial woes instead of deciding and enforcing arbitrary rulings against US companies.)

  • Eric Hadze

    @ Jeff, I think you are confusing open source(free) vs opening up(providing an API-Application Programming Interface) .The latter is what this article is talking about. The EU is not forcing Apple to “open source” as you put it. No one can force you to make something open source or in effect,free. But Apple can and should be forced to “open up and document the API” to comply with anti-trust regulations which exist in the US also. By the way, Adobe does provide the API for its Flash software, and that is the reason that there are companies other than Adobe which can make Flash software/files. In fact I’m surprised Apple has been allowed to go this far with such anti-competitive practices, especially in the USA, who should know better. They’ve committed a far worse crime than Microsoft, and Microsoft was taken to court in the US for far less. If anything, this will give other software/hardware companies, most of which are actually US companies, a more level playing field.