SAN FRANCISCO — Apple’s new subscription service for iPad and iPhone applications, which has drawn complaints from some publishers, has also drawn the attention of federal antitrust regulators, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. www.wdalaw.com
The person, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity because the government inquiries were confidential, said on Thursday that the regulators’ interest was preliminary and might not develop into a formal investigation.
On Monday, Apple introduced a subscription mechanism for apps that required companies to offer customers the possibility of buying content like magazines or music through its payment system, with Apple taking a 30 percent cut. The rules also bar companies from offering a better deal to customers if they pay for a subscription elsewhere, say on a company’s own Web site. Apps that do not comply may not be used on Apple devices.
The announcement drew complaints from some publishers who said giving Apple a 30 percent cut would not be economically feasible. The Justice Department has been looking into Apple’s tactics in the music business for nearly a year. And the Federal Trade Commission has been looking at some of the restrictions that Apple puts on developers who create applications for the iPhone and iPad.
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Gina Talamona, declined to comment, as did an Apple spokesman, Tom Neumayr. The Wall Street Journal first reported on its Web site Thursday that regulators were looking at Apple’s terms for content sales.