Green bubbles, Apple Pay and other reasons why America says Apple is breaking the law

Green bubbles, Apple Pay and other reasons why America says Apple is breaking the law - Business and Finance - News

Apple’s Monopolistic Practices: The Justice Department’s Landmark Antitrust Lawsuit

During the 2022 Vox Code Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook famously suggested buying an iPhone for one’s mother to improve her texting experience. This quip resurfaced during a press conference held by the US Attorney General Merrick Garland, as he announced the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple. The lawsuit, backed by the Biden administration and 16 states, accuses Apple of illegally abusing its monopolistic power in the smartphone market.

Alleged Monopolistic Practices by Apple

The lawsuit asserts that Apple’s meticulous curation of its app store and customer experience is designed to lure customers in and keep them within the Apple ecosystem, at the expense of competitors. If successful, this lawsuit could potentially force Apple to loosen its restrictions on its “walled garden” approach to hardware and software.

The Issue of Cross-Platform Messaging

One area where Apple’s practices are under scrutiny is the issue of cross-platform messaging. With iMessage, Apple created a text messaging service that allows for rich content and high-quality video and audio transmission between iPhone users. However, when messages are sent to Android users, they appear grainy, take longer to load, and lack essential features like emoji responses or editing functionality. The “green bubbles” associated with Android users within iMessage are not only aesthetically displeasing, but the Justice Department alleges they’re also illegal.

Apple Pay and Closed Payment Systems

Another contentious issue is Apple’s closed payment systems. Apple helped revolutionize the way we pay for things by allowing customers to connect their credit cards to iPhone technology for secure and seamless transactions, taking a small fee for each transaction. However, Apple Pay is the only way iPhone owners can use this technology to pay for things on their device. The lawsuit alleges that Apple does not allow third-party apps to access the chip that enables mobile payments, potentially forcing some customers to stay with iPhones when they might otherwise switch to a competitor.

Apple Watch and Exclusive Ecosystem

Apple’s popular Apple Watch is another area where the company faces criticism. Although some smartwatches are compatible with any smartphone, Apple Watches require iPhones to operate. The Justice Department argues that this practice locks customers into the Apple ecosystem and forces Apple Watch customers to buy iPhones.

App Store Restrictions

The only way to download apps on an iPhone is through Apple’s proprietary app store. While Apple justifies this practice by claiming it prevents harmful apps and spam, the Justice Department argues that these restrictions limit competition and force developers to abide by expensive commission rates and Apple’s onerous limitations.

The Impact on Competition

For instance, the Justice Department cites cloud-based gaming app stores as a service that Apple illegally prevents from appearing on iPhones. By preventing companies from marketing and selling these competitive technologies to customers, Apple maintains its grip on the market. Additionally, Apple forces developers to write code specifically for its operating system, preventing them from utilizing universal languages that could offer a single app experience across any device.


The antitrust lawsuit against Apple marks an attempt to address the company’s allegedly monopolistic practices. If successful, these changes could potentially lead to more competition and a better user experience for consumers, as well as increased innovation among developers.

Further Reading

For a more in-depth understanding of the case, refer to the following resources: