The Morning After: Justice Department files antitrust lawsuit against Apple


The Department of Justice and more than a dozen states have filed a lawsuit against Apple in the US federal court, accusing the company of violating antitrust laws. It says Apple’s hardware and software products are largely inaccessible to competitors, making it difficult for rivals to compete and for customers to switch to other companies’ products.

The lawsuit comes after the European Commission fined Apple €1.8 billion ($1.95 billion) for stopping music-streaming developers from “informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services available” outside the App Store. And all this while US lawmakers chase another tech company, TikTok, with a lot of enthusiasm.

The DOJ suggests Apple used its control over iOS to block innovative apps and cloud streaming services from the public. (Look at cloud gaming services, like Google’s now-gone Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud). The suit also suggests Apple has obstructed rival payment platforms, made it harder for Android messages to appear on iPhones and restricted how competing smartphones integrated with iOS devices.

You could compare Apple’s antitrust suit to Microsoft’s antitrust suit brought against Windows in the late ’90s — even Attorney General Merrick Garland noted those in the suit. But Microsoft truly dominated PC software back then, with over 90 percent of all PCs running some flavor of Windows.

The DOJ says Apple claims 70 percent of all smartphones, which is already less. Step outside the US, which is a bit academic here, and Apple has the same market share as Samsung, with many other phone makers jostling for a percentage point or two. It’s not quite the same grip as Microsoft had on PCs.

— Mat Smith

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Microsoft

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