Civil Suit against Apple, AT&T has okay to go forward

Apple, I stood up for you back in May... Don't let me down.

Back at the beginning of May, I said it was my opinion that an anti-trust lawsuit against Apple wouldn’t get off the ground. Well, it would appear that a federal judge would disagree with me. Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has said that the lawsuit accusing Apple and AT&T of monopoly abuse can move forward as a class action.

Now, while I was addressing the latest batch of accusations to have come about, this lawsuit was originally filed in late 2007 but is essentially the same allegations to have arisen in recent months. The lawsuit consolidates several lawsuits against the two companies and accuses them of restricting use of the iPhone to the AT&T network, absolutely controlling what apps can be run on the devices, as well driving up prices by entering into a five year exclusivity contract where the iPhone is only available for AT&T’s network.

Now, I will agree that some of the points in the lawsuit have some merit. For instance, why should Apple be able to tell me what I can and cannot run on their phone once I’ve coughed up the green for the phone? Why can’t I run whatever the hell I like on the phone, power intensive or not? Why do I have to agree to get everything for the iPhone from the App Store? These are just some of the questions I would ask if I were an iPhone user.

That’s not to say I’ve changed my earlier stance. I still firmly believe that with some minor modifications to the Terms of Use and the App Store guidelines that Apple couldn’t avoid a lawsuit completely. I still believe that Apple may not want their “playground” to be modified but having seen what a jailbroken 3GS is capable of, I have to wonder why Jobs and company aren’t trying to hire some of the guys who are programming these apps and churning out a product that’s completely and utterly customizable.

It’s obvious, at least to me, that the exclusivity contract isn’t as bad of a deal as the lawsuit makes it sound. The accusation here is that Apple and AT&T entered into the contract secretly and that by doing so, have artificially inflated prices for cellular service plans. I’ll admit, AT&T’s pricing for their plans doesn’t seem like they’ve changed at all since the launch of the iPhone, even when competitors have started lowering their unlimited usage plans in order to attract new customer. But let’s face it, Apple was a newcomer to the market. It made sense to focus on producing a product for one specific network to make sure it could be done but why the hell did it have to be a five year contract?

Are AT&T and Apple guilty of cornering the market for smartphones? With 1.7 million iPhones sold within the first three days, I would have to say it’s a good indication that if it is what they intended, they’ve already partially succeeded. Should the iPhone be produced to work on other networks? I’d say yes to this as well because to me, it seems like common business sense. If the iPhone weren’t restricted to one network, I have no doubt that the iPhone would be the top ranked device based on sales.

And to add to the fire and the appearance of guilt, AT&T did away with their unlimited data plan right around the same time that the iPhone 4 launched. This would make it appear that they know damn well that they’re going to get some new customers out of the new device and they’re pushing to make as much money as they can from these new users.

Apple isn’t looking too innocent in all of this either. Problems with the iPhone 4’s signal based on how a person grips the phone and the subsequent responses from Steve Jobs first suggesting that people were holding the phone wrong and then pointing out that for 30 dollars users could purchase one of the bumper cases in order to avoid the problem seem like they, too, are seeking to make as much money as possible from new and existing users.

Again, I’m not changing my initial opinion but that opinion was based on the facts that were in place when I wrote the story…  I had no idea that two months later all of the money grabbing would occur.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Posted By Gritskrieg

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