Microsoft's Xbox 360 Apple Defense

Microsoft and Apple, already strange bedfellows if we're to believe Apple's seriously considering Bing over Google on future iPhones, are at it again, albeit indirectly. This time it's Microsoft's turn, as they present counterarguments in an Xbox 360 antitrust case.

The disgruntled player is a company called Datel Design & Development, which dubiously argues that Microsoft is monopolizing the market for "Multiplayer Online Dedicated Gaming Systems." With their supposed monopoly, Microsoft is allegedly controlling the related market for accessories by using software-related barriers that bar 3rd party devices from competing with Microsoft Xbox 360 accessories. In a nutshell, this means Datel's unlicensed Game Genie-type cheats device is barred from being sold for use on the Xbox 360 platform.

Now, I say dubious because Datel conveniently leaves out any mention of market leader Nintendo Wii, as well as the PS2, PSP and DS handhelds in its argument. If one only considers the Xbox 360 and PS3 in the dominant market, as Datel does, the argument has some merit, maybe. Add in those pesky "other consoles"—the ones Datel says don't count because their owners aren't really gamers, or something—and poof, a little bit less believable.

Nevertheless, the Datel complaint led Microsoft to cite Apple's legal battle with Psystar, and hence the strange bedfellows comment above. From the Microsoft motion, transcribed by TechFlash *deep breath*:

[Psystar responded with antitrust claims] "much like those alleged by Datel, alleging that Apple had sought to monopolize a primary market for the Mac OS as well as the aftermarket for hardware that could be used with the Mac OS and had tied the Mac OS to its own hardware. [Much like Apple owners agreeing to the OS X EULA] Xbox 360 purchasers knowingly and voluntarily gave Microsoft the right to prohibit the use of unauthorized accessories...each Xbox 360 comes packaged with a software license requiring consumers to agree that the Xbox 360 software can be used only with Microsoft authorized accessories."

The one thing I'll give to Datel is their accessories really expose how Microsoft gouges us all with their accessory pricing. For $30 MS gives us 512MB memory cards. For $40, Datel sells us 2GB. The case goes to court March 1. [TechFlash, Datel's Motion (pdf)]