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US Sues Apple Over Smartphone Market Monopoly

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US Sues Apple Over Smartphone Market Monopoly

(CTN News) – The United States has filed a major lawsuit against Apple, accusing the tech giant of monopolizing the smartphone market and stifling competition.

The Justice Department argues that the corporation misused its influence over the iPhone app store to “lock in” customers and developers.

It accuses the company of using illegal means to combat apps perceived as a threat and make rival goods less enticing.

Apple has vowed to “vigorously” battle the lawsuit and denies the allegations.

The extensive complaint, filed in a federal court in New Jersey alongside the attorneys general of 16 states, is one of Apple’s most significant challenges to date, as the company has faced mounting concerns about its policies in recent years.

It claims that Apple employed “a series of shapeshifting rules” and limited access to its hardware and software in order to increase profits while boosting user fees and limiting innovation.

“Apple has maintained monopoly power in the smartphone market not simply by staying ahead of the competition on the merits, but by violating federal anti-trust law,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference announcing the action.

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“Customers should not have to pay higher prices because companies break the law.”

The 88-page complaint focuses on five instances in which Apple allegedly misused its power.

For example, the US claims that Apple exploited its app approval process to stymie the creation of so-called super apps and streaming apps, fearing that such programs would provide customers with less motivation to continue with iPhones.

It also claims that Apple has made it impossible to link iPhones to rival smart watches and prevented banks and other financial institutions from using its tap-to-pay technology, allowing Apple to make billions of dollars in fees from Apple Pay transactions.

The case also criticizes Apple’s treatment of messages sent from rival phones, which it distinguishes with green bubbles while limiting movies and other capabilities. It claims that Apple’s actions have produced a “social stigma” that has helped the company maintain its market dominance.

Apple claimed that customers were loyal because they were happy, and that under US law, it was free to choose its business partners. It has cited privacy and security reasons to explain its policies.

The company said it will seek the court to dismiss the action, which it expected to fail.

“We believe this lawsuit is wrong on the facts and the law, and we will vigorously defend against it,” the business stated in a statement.

According to Bill Baer, a visiting fellow at Brookings and former anti-trust official under the Obama administration, the case will be decided on the basis of purpose.

“Anti-trust laws and the courts’ interpretation of them suggest that once you’re a monopolist,” he went on to say, “if you do engage in behaviors that have no legitimate business justification other than to limit competition and cement your monopoly, then that is problematic.”

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FILE PHOTO: European Commissioner for Europe fit for the Digital Age Margrethe Vestager speaks during an online news conference on Apple anti trust case at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium April 30, 2021. Francisco Seco/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

It is the third legal action taken by the US government against Apple since 2009, and the first antitrust lawsuit brought against the corporation during President Joe Biden’s administration.

If the government wins its case, it might force Apple to change its current contracts and procedures, or perhaps lead to the company’s dissolution.

Apple stock plunged more than 4% as investors weighed the consequences of the court battle.

Any potential modifications would take years to materialise as the lawsuit progresses through the courts.

Rebecca Allensworth, a Vanderbilt University professor, described the case as “a blockbuster” in light of other actions filed by the Justice Department against large digital companies. Google, Meta, and Amazon are all facing similar lawsuits.

She stated that the goal was to improve smartphone functioning while also making technology and software more available to consumers and other enterprises.

“It’s not about breaking up Apple into small units or spinning off divisions,” she went on to say.

Apple is facing a growing legal backlash for its iOS environment and business practices.

It is currently involved in a lengthy legal struggle with Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite.

The EU fined the company €1.8 billion (£1.5 billion) last month for violating competition regulations regarding music streaming.

According to the European Commission, the company restricted streaming services from telling customers about payment options other than the Apple App Store.

Margrethe Vestager, the competition commissioner, claimed Apple had exploited its dominating market position for a decade and ordered the tech giant to eliminate all limitations. Apple indicated it would file an appeal over the decision.

Apple’s Market Dominance and Share Statistics

Anat Alon-Beck, a commercial law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, described the Justice Department’s current action as “far more extensive” than its past legal battles in the EU.

“It’s not just about the 30% app store fee, but about Apple’s fundamentally unfair practices,” she said, adding that it was “about time” for the DOJ to intervene.

“Apple systematically excludes competitors from the Apple ecosystem.” By doing so, Apple is harming countless startup businesses, stakeholders, customers, and, in my opinion, shareholders,” she stated.

According to the Justice Department, Apple’s dominance of the US smartphone market surpasses 70%, while its share of the overall smartphone market exceeds 65%.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, she crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. Her writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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