2011/02/18

US regulators examine Apple media platform: WSJ

WASHINGTON, February 18, 2011 (AFP) - US antitrust regulators have begun to examine Apple's online platform for subscriptions for newspapers and other content through its App Store, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal said the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission were taking a preliminary look at Apple and that a formal investigation might not occur, but that Apple has attracted growing antitrust scrutiny in the United States and Europe.

The report said regulators are interested in examining whether Apple is running afoul of US antitrust laws by funneling media companies' customers into the payment system for its iTunes store and taking a 30 percent cut.

Google separately launched an online payment platform for digital newspapers and magazines on Wednesday, taking just 10 percent of revenue.

Apple's iPad currently dominates the tablet computer market but several companies are developing tablets running Google's Android software and the technology giants are also fierce rivals on the smartphone platform front.

The dueling online subscription services are aimed at attracting content producers to their respective mobile devices and come as struggling newspapers and magazines seek to boost revenue from the Web.

Apple's subscription service was first offered with The Daily, a digital newspaper for the iPad tablet computer launched earlier this month by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

With print advertising revenue and circulation declining, Murdoch and other newspaper and magazine publishers have been looking to the iPad and the Web to boost revenue.

Most major US newspapers and magazines have already created paid or free versions of their publications for the iPad and The New York Times plans to begin charging readers soon for full access to NYTimes.com.