Did Apple Go Too Far? U.S. Said to Launch Antitrust Probe of New Media Store

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Apple (AAPL) may have gone too far with the fee structure for its "newsstand," where publishers and other creators of premium content can sell their products for iPads and other Apple devices. TheWall Street Journalwrote that the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have launched an antitrust investigation, amid concern that Apple will use its leverage in the multimedia device market to undermine competition.

Companies seeking to market their products via Apple's array of electronic devices have complained that the company has used its prime position to charge high fees -- a 30% cut of the subscription price.

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Google (GOOG) has launched a rival service that has lower fees, more like 10%, but the search company does not have a ready market of phones and tablets. Google's Android OS is used on a number of smart phones, but they don't have Apple's market share or proprietary software. Applications sold through the Apple App Store can only be used on Apple devices, while those sold via Google's system can be accessed on a range of devices.

As Microsoft (MSFT) learned a decade ago when it was forced to "unbundle" its web browser from its PC operating system in Europe, the only real challenge to powerful tech companies with broad control of devices is from government agencies.

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