iPhone: EU mulls 'persuading' Apple to open code

Having fined Microsoft US$1.4 billion for lack of software openness, the EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes has now turned her attention to Apple and other handset vendors over new European interop rules.

While stopping short of proposing immediate measures, Kroes pointed to Apple's App Store as an example where its restrictive approach locked customers into a closed environment.

"We need to make sure that significant market players cannot just choose to deny interoperability with their product," she said. "This is particularly important in cases where standards don't exist... This is not just about Microsoft or any big company like Apple, IBM or Intel. The main challenge is that consumers need choice when it comes to software or hardware products."

However, the Commissioner made it clear that Apple would not be immune to a much wider promotion for interoperability by the European Commission, whose Digital Agenda could make licensing and publishing formats a legal requirement.

Apple, which is already believed to be under investigation by the FTC in the U.S. for banning third-party development suites, provides access to the same programming interfaces as it uses for iOS devices. Some observers believe that the company might have to review its approach and enable developers to write apps without using Xcode or requiring that all apps must be approved by Apple.

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