The U.S. Justice department has begun a preliminary antitrust inquiry into Apples business practices in relation to its iTunes Music Store; the New York Times reports.
Apple controls 69 percent of the online music sales market and is allegedly using its dominant position to control exclusive access to new music. Amazon.com has been in negotiation with several music labels to provide exclusive content one day before general sale through its "MP3 Daily Deal" program. It is alleged that Apple has been requesting labels not participate in this exclusivity deal with Amazon, while punishing labels that did not comply.
The vintage Apple advertisement, "1984" depicting an Orwellian scene in which Apple is fighting back against "the man" has been the defining attitude and view of the company for several decades. Recently however, with Apples imposing control of the online music, app and possibly future e-book markets; along with strict app and content criteria, Apple may have become who they were fighting.
The DoJ seems to think so, as government regulators are beginning to scrutinize Apples dominant market power with the antitrust comb. This is the latest in a string of investigations regarding Apple, including an FTC investigation regarding Apples control over developers for the iPhone platform, and another investigation by the DoJ regarding hiring practices and non-compete agreements.