The ten-year-old lawsuit over whether Apple violated antitrust law by locking the iPod to its own iTunes software has finally gone to trial. In its first day before a jury, the case has yielded several new emails between Apple executives as well as a videotaped deposition of Steve Jobs, which was recorded in 2011 shortly before he died.
In the video, according to Reuters, Jobs was asked if he had heard of Real Networks, the company behind the RealPlayer software Apple had blocked from working with the iPod. Jobs took a quick jab at the music distribution rival and asked, “Do they still exist?”
As far as the question of why Real Player was blocked from functioning with the iPod, Jobs says he was worried that the music industry would view interoperability and the ability to copy music from one computer to another as a method of pirating media and react badly.
Emails between Apple’s executive team, including Jobs and marketing chief Phil Schiller, revealed how the company viewed the competition. In one email from 2004, Jobs suggested that Apple release a statement condemning Real Networks for attempting to make its software work with the iPod and label the group’s tactics as those of “hackers.” Schiller chimed in with his support of the idea.
While the plaintiffs in the case argue that Apple violated antitrust law by locking its hardware to its software, the Cupertino company has responded by claiming that because the iPod was not the only portable music player on the market, they did not have a monopoly and were not obligated to provide compatibility with competing software. To do so, the company’s lawyers insist, would have damaged the user experience that Apple is known for.
Additional Apple executives, including Schiller and iTunes head Eddy Cue and are expected to testify as the trial continues. The plaintiffs are seeking $351,631,153 in damages.
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