US to sue Apple in antitrust complaint

US to sue Apple in antitrust complaint - Business and Finance - News

The Historic Antitrust Lawsuit Against Apple: A New Challenge for the Tech Giant

Apple, one of the world’s leading technology companies, has finally found itself under scrutiny from the federal government in a long-awaited antitrust lawsuit. This legal action comes after years of allegations that Apple’s restrictive app store terms, high fees, and walled-garden technology ecosystem have stifled competition. With the Biden administration taking a tough stance on Big Tech following similar actions against Google, Apple’s business practices are now under the microscope.

Apple is among the tech giants named in a sprawling House report in 2020 that identified them as possessing “monopoly power.” While Meta, Google, and Amazon have already faced antitrust suits, Apple remained the last major player to avoid legal action. The other cases include Google’s ad business, which went to trial in September 2023, and Amazon’s alleged monopolistic practices that were claimed to harm consumers and sellers.

Google: The lawsuit against Google’s ad business was the first antitrust action brought by the Biden administration, focusing on the company’s core advertising business. Plaintiffs, including the Department of Justice (DOJ) and multiple states, have accused Google of gobbling up rivals through anticompetitive mergers and bullied publishers and advertisers into using its proprietary ad technology products.

Amazon: Plaintiffs from 17 states and the Federal Trade Commission have claimed that Amazon has run an illegal monopoly by using a self-reinforcing cycle of dominance. They argue that Amazon lured shoppers and sellers onto its platform and then trapped them there, preventing other contact retailers from attracting the same consumers and vendors.

Meta: Although states attempted to break up Facebook-parent company Meta in 2020, their case was unsuccessful. The federal appeals court found that they were too late to file their challenge and failed to make a persuasive argument regarding Meta’s data policies harming competition.

Apple: Apple’s handling of Android messages on iPhones has been a subject of criticism for years, with the company displaying Android messages in green text bubbles instead of blue ones and displaying images in low resolutions. Tech entrepreneur Eric Migicovsky, who created an app called Beeper Mini to help Android users overcome these limitations when messaging iPhone users, experienced Apple’s efforts to suppress the app, making it unreliable for users.

Impact of the Lawsuit:
Beyond potential fines that Apple might face, remedies in the case could significantly impact Apple’s business strategy. The antitrust laws aim to prevent practices that enable companies from concentrating markets and restraining trade, as outlined on the DOJ Website. The Sherman Antitrust Act criminalizes agreements between competitors to fix prices, rig bids, or allocate customers, workers, or markets.

Apple’s Control of Messaging:
The lawsuit against Apple could challenge the company’s control over messaging on iPhones, potentially disrupting its distinct hardware and software products and the revenue streams that support its product ecosystem.

With this lawsuit against Apple, the Biden administration is making a statement about holding Big Tech accountable for practices that potentially harm competition and stifle innovation. The legal action will be closely watched as it unfolds, potentially setting a precedent for future antitrust cases involving other tech companies.