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Steve Jobs' Testimony Expected to Play Major Role in iPod Antitrust Lawsuit

Apple this week is scheduled to appear in court and face accusations that it deliberately crippled competing music services and players in an iPod class action lawsuit from 2005, reports The New York Times. The trial will feature testimony from Steve Jobs, whose emails and a videotaped deposition taken before his death will play an important part in the plaintiffs' case.

The complaint focuses on Apple's older iPod models, which only supported music purchased on iTunes and songs downloaded from CDs. Also being disputed is Apple's FairPlay system of encoding purchased music, which limited music playback to the iPod and not competing MP3 players. In the suit, consumers claim Apple violated antitrust law by deliberately limiting interoperability with competitors, while exclusively promoting its products and services.

The email testimony is expected to paint Steve Jobs as an aggressive businessman who worked hard to ensure the success of the iPod and iTunes. This success often came at the expense of smaller competitors, which were not allowed to connect to Apple's popular iPod ecosystem. In one already released email, Jobs addresses Apple's lack of support for the-then upcoming MusicMatch music store.
"We need to make sure that when Music Match launches their download music store they cannot use iPod," he wrote. "Is this going to be an issue?"
Part of the case also involves Apple's interactions with RealNetworks, which devised a workaround in 2004 that allowed content from its music store to be played on the iPod. In an angry statement released to the media, Apple accused RealNetworks of hacking the iPod and threatened to disable this functionality in future iPod software updates.

To counteract Jobs' testimony, Apple is expected to argue that updates to the iPod and iTunes were designed to improve the platform for the consumer and not cripple competing devices. The company also likely will point out that the price of the iPod has gone down over the years, despite Apple's alleged monopolistic behavior.

Top Rated Comments

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62 months ago
Don't buy an iPod then. Seems pretty simple.
Rating: 29 Votes
62 months ago
On the face of it I can’t see a problem with this, (I’m ready to be hung for that comment).
I can believe that this dirty tricks thing was carried out by Apple but at the same time I say to myself, it only supported certain formats, so what?
As long as I knew this at the time of purchase it’s up to me to decide if I buy or not.
Rating: 28 Votes
62 months ago
How is this so different from Sony with minidiscs? Sony took an already viable music container (magnetic media) and put it in a format that only worked with Sony devices or those licensed to use it. Some people, including myself, would not buy an iPod or use iTunes because it was too proprietary - those other MP3 manufacturers thrived off of that weakness, now they want to turn around and sue over its strengths.
Rating: 28 Votes
62 months ago
Steve wanted his venture to be successful? How dare him!
Rating: 27 Votes
62 months ago
i just unsuccessfully tried to open a powerpoint on my ti-85 calculator - and it won't charge with my iPhone lightning cable. time to get some good lawyers, ti...
Rating: 26 Votes
62 months ago

In the suit, consumers claim Apple violated antitrust law by deliberately limiting interoperability with competitors, while exclusively promoting its products and services.

Ah great! If they win, I can't wait to sue Honda because I can't put my tC engine into a Civic! Make these suckers pay!
Rating: 22 Votes
62 months ago

It's the music labels that insisted on DRM. Apple ditched it as soon as they could.

I understand that the lawsuit is about the idea that the iPod didn't support multiple DRM formats but that was logistically impossible. Apple's deal with the labels allowed iTunes sales only as long as FairPlay wasn't hacked. Apple had to work non-stop to stay ahead of attempts to crack it.

There is no way that Apple could open up their hardware to multiple companies using multiple formats and expect to maintain the same level of security. (Security that was, remember, required by the music labels in exchange for the iTunes music store to exist.)

These people wanted a miracle and are crying because Apple couldn't pull it off. It wasn't possible.

EDIT: A great Gruber article from 2006 saying just about the same thing. His argument is a little different but the conclusion is the same:
Rating: 19 Votes
62 months ago
Yes but can a crappy analogy I get from a macrumors forum be used anywhere else?
Rating: 15 Votes
62 months ago
Exclusively Promoting Its Own Products

"...while exclusively promoting its products and services."

What kind of a company exclusively promotes its products. Very disappointing :rolleyes:
Rating: 12 Votes
62 months ago

Every company would do this, where it not for all those pesky consumer protection laws.

There's nothing here to protect a consumer against...
Rating: 10 Votes

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