Apple said yesterday that it had already sold a million iPads. And the papers reported that antitrust regulators are interested in the rules Apple sets for apps developers.
The news is a reminder that part of the burden of being World's Hottest Media Company is dealing with antitrust issues, as regulators try to figure out what's fair competition in the fast-changing technology/media universe.
In the 1990s, the government launched its big antitrust case against Microsoft. In 2008, Google pulled out of a potential deal with Yahoo after the justice department said the deal would "likely have denied consumers the benefits of competition." And just a few days ago, Bloomberg News reported that the Federal Trade Commission may challenge Google's acquisition of a company that sells ads on mobile phones.
Their feds' interest in Apple is very, very preliminary. The FTC and the justice department haven't even figured out who would take the lead, and no formal investigation has been opened, the Financial Times reports.
The regulators may look into the fight over Apple's decision to make iPhones and iPads incompatible with Adobe's Flash. Whatever the details, the broader subtext seems clear: The wild success of Apple's mobile devices means it will face ongoing scrutiny from antitrust regulators.