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On March 21, the United States Justice Department sued Apple for antitrust violations, concluding a multi-year investigation into Apple's business practices. The U.S. government is also pursuing antitrust cases against Google, Amazon, and Meta, as part of an expansive look into the practices of major tech companies.

Apple-vs-DOJ-Feature.jpg

Apple plans to "vigorously defend" against the DoJ's lawsuit, which seeks to fundamentally change the way that Apple operates. This will be a legal battle that spans multiple years, and we'll keep this guide updated with the latest news as the case progresses.

DoJ's Claims

The lawsuit that the DoJ filed against Apple is broad ranging, and rather than focusing on one or two issues, it aims to establish a long-running history of anti-competitive behavior. The DoJ tries to establish a pattern of business decisions that have suppressed competition, with the DoJ arguing that Apple has time and time again opted to "make its products worse for consumers to prevent competition from emerging."

It is the opinion of the DoJ that Apple has gotten consumers "hooked" on its platform through these choices, making it unreasonably difficult for customers to switch to another smartphone brand. There is no allowance made for customer preference and the idea that people simply like their iPhones - the DoJ positions Apple as a monopolist that has manipulated people into sticking with its ecosystem by blocking competing apps, services, and products.

Suppressing Technologies

While the full lawsuit details a long list of ways Apple has allegedly harmed consumers, the DoJ cites five specific examples of Apple blocking technologies that it claims would decrease barriers to switching and give consumers a "higher-quality user experience on any smartphone."

The DoJ is of the opinion that if Apple did not historically limit cloud gaming, digital wallets, and non-Apple Watch smartwatches, that people would freely choose to purchase less expensive alternative smartphones over the iPhone. The DoJ believes that Apple is not facing pressure from "innovative, cross-platform technologies" because Apple "makes other products worse" rather than making its own products better.
  • Super apps - The DoJ defines super apps as those that provide a user with "broad functionality" in a single app and have the benefit of providing a consistent user experience across devices. An example of a super app is WeChat, which is widely used in China for communicating, making payments, and more. The DoJ says that Apple has "denied users access to super apps" in the U.S., but it is worth noting that there is a cultural aspect to these apps, and they just haven't caught on in the U.S. the way they have in China. Mini apps are often frequently referenced too, as Apple did have restrictions on apps offering mini games and other multi-app features (these restrictions were eliminated in iOS 17.4).
  • Cloud streaming - The DoJ suggests that Apple is suppressing cloud streaming games by preventing them from being available on the App Store. Cloud streaming apps have been usable on Safari, and as of iOS 17.4, Apple changed its rules to allow streaming game apps like Xbox Cloud Gaming to offer streaming games through a single App Store app. This argument is no longer entirely relevant, but the DoJ believes that by not allowing cloud gaming apps, Apple prevented consumers from buying cheaper phones. The idea here is that customers had to opt in to expensive iPhones to play "high-compute" games because they weren't available to play using cloud services.
  • Messaging apps - The DoJ thinks that third-party apps should be able to send and receive SMS messages, rather than these messages being routed to the Messages app. This would let users switch phones without changing the way they communicate. The filing takes issue with the lack of an iMessage app for Android, Apple's efforts to block the Beeper Mini app, green bubbles, and the adoption of RCS.
  • Smartwatches - Apple suppresses key functions of third-party smartwatches, preventing iPhone users from getting Apple Watch-like functionality from smartwatches with "better user interfaces and services." The DoJ says that Apple locks customers in to the iPhone with the Apple Watch, because the Apple Watch can't be used on other smartphones. A user who wants to switch from the iPhone must also purchase an Android-compatible smartwatch.
  • Digital Wallets - Apple does not let banking apps access NFC and provide digital payments services, and customers are not able to choose their "trusted banking apps" as their digital wallet. Apple also prevents developers from creating cross-platform wallets that would make it easier to switch from iPhone to Android, and alternative wallets could also be used for in-app purchases. The DoJ claims that the payments that banks make to Apple for using Apple Pay would otherwise be used for features and benefits for smartphone users.

Privacy and Security

The DoJ suggests that Apple justifies its anticompetitive conduct with privacy and security concerns.
  • Apple spends billions on marketing to promote "the self-serving premise that only Apple can safeguard consumers' privacy and security interests."
  • Apple selectively compromises privacy and security interests when it is in Apple's financial interest. The examples used here include the lack of end-to-end encryption between Android and iPhone messages and the making Google the default browser engine when "more private options" are available.
  • The safe, secure experience on Mac is evidence that Apple's control over app distribution and creation is "substantially more restrictive than necessary to protect user privacy and security."
  • Apple makes the iPhone less secure if that helps it maintain monopoly power. The DoJ cites unencrypted text messages sent from iPhones to Android phones as an example. "If Apple wanted to," it could let iPhone users send encrypted messages to Android users.

The App Store

The DoJ mentions Apple's App Store policies and fees, but it is not the main focus of the lawsuit. While the DoJ was preparing its case, the Apple vs. Epic Games lawsuit took place, and Apple was found not to have a mobile gaming monopoly. That undoubtedly influenced the DoJ filing, but there is wording here... Click here to read rest of article

Article Link: Apple vs. the U.S. Department of Justice: What You Need to Know
 

jz0309

Contributor
Sep 25, 2018
10,076
26,351
SoCal
just because he's such a popular guy here, Gurman's PowerOn newsletter from yesterday:

 

Shirasaki

macrumors P6
May 16, 2015
15,579
10,871
This is going to get very interesting in the coming years. While I am in full support of government hampering megacorps dominance, they might need to think very carefully about how they are going to achieve their goal. What DoJ presents so far doesn’t feel like it’s holding water in some accusations, which could lead to trouble obtaining a favourable court outcome.

Nevertheless, here it goes. If you are too successful, people will want to know why and investigate you.

With that being said, given other historical cases we are running today, I’m skeptical of the US justice system. Let’s see how this pans out.
 

TheMountainLife

macrumors regular
May 24, 2015
221
225
I'm internally celebrating since I recently switched to an S24u and faced with having to sell my ultra watch 2, airpods pro 2 and airtags because they no longer work but its also obvious Apple is being picked on and being told to give up something they invested in that nobody else would.

The positive outcome is that Carplay forced auto makers to integrate it into their systems so we didn't have to deal with their neglected UI or subscription based navigation and Apple Pay pushed majority of US merchants to invest accepting NFC payments. This could better so many things.

Overall I hope this all makes Apple and its competitors compete again and not just rewrite each others homework and expect us to drop $$$$ for minor advances.
 

developer13245

macrumors 6502a
Nov 15, 2012
771
1,003
Does anyone remember buying “shrink wrap” software off the shelf in retail stores? Those stores had rows and rows of shelves with software applications for the IBM PC. Some even might have had a small dusty shelf at the back with a few applications for that Apple platform.

If IBM had the same control over the software industry that Apple has today ALL those stores would have been IBM “App Stores”, and we all would still be shopping there. IBM had the money to do this at the time so it's not as far fetched as you might think...

Of course those IBM stores would not have had that dusty shelf in the back with applications for the Apple platform so Apple would have had to open their own stores to compete. They never would have survived.

Microsoft also would have never survived because IBM wouldn't have used them to port 86 DOS (a CP/M clone) to the IBM PC, but that’s the silver lining in this dark alternate reality :)

The software industry has been staunchly independent from the very beginning. Apple is hardware company and has never made money from developing software so it should NOT be allowed to exert such control over the software industry. This is the main anti-trust issue.

IBM knew they were a hardware company AND, YES, YES, YES!!! they didn't want to get anywhere near an ANTI-TRUST situation. This is a historical FACT! IBM understood if they created their own software division for the IBM PC it would have a natural advantage over any and every other software company that might write apps for the platform. This would dissuade other companies from writing for the platform and create an anti-trust issue.
 

leehericks

macrumors member
Jan 27, 2008
41
59
Tokyo, Japan
That’s a lot of hot air. Having a healthy and successful business depends on setting appropriate profit margins just as much as it does creating great products and doing good marketing. No one was ever forced into buying AirTags, smart watches or AirPods. These are useful accessories if you buy an iPhone. Since when are businesses forced to develop features in their products to use for infinite other platforms? It doesn’t make sense…
 

Nick Turner

macrumors newbie
Jan 25, 2024
4
17


On March 21, the United States Justice Department sued Apple for antitrust violations, concluding a multi-year investigation into Apple's business practices. The U.S. government is also pursuing antitrust cases against Google, Amazon, and Meta, as part of an expansive look into the practices of major tech companies.

Apple-vs-DOJ-Feature.jpg

Apple plans to "vigorously defend" against the DoJ's lawsuit, which seeks to fundamentally change the way that Apple operates. This will be a legal battle that spans multiple years, and we'll keep this guide updated with the latest news as the case progresses.

DoJ's Claims

The lawsuit that the DoJ filed against Apple is broad ranging, and rather than focusing on one or two issues, it aims to establish a long-running history of anti-competitive behavior. The DoJ tries to establish a pattern of business decisions that have suppressed competition, with the DoJ arguing that Apple has time and time again opted to "make its products worse for consumers to prevent competition from emerging."

It is the opinion of the DoJ that Apple has gotten consumers "hooked" on its platform through these choices, making it unreasonably difficult for customers to switch to another smartphone brand. There is no allowance made for customer preference and the idea that people simply like their iPhones - the DoJ positions Apple as a monopolist that has manipulated people into sticking with its ecosystem by blocking competing apps, services, and products.

Suppressing Technologies

While the full lawsuit details a long list of ways Apple has allegedly harmed consumers, the DoJ cites five specific examples of Apple blocking technologies that it claims would decrease barriers to switching and give consumers a "higher-quality user experience on any smartphone."

The DoJ is of the opinion that if Apple did not historically limit cloud gaming, digital wallets, and non-Apple Watch smartwatches, that people would freely choose to purchase less expensive alternative smartphones over the iPhone. The DoJ believes that Apple is not facing pressure from "innovative, cross-platform technologies" because Apple "makes other products worse" rather than making its own products better.
  • Super apps - The DoJ defines super apps as those that provide a user with "broad functionality" in a single app and have the benefit of providing a consistent user experience across devices. An example of a super app is WeChat, which is widely used in China for communicating, making payments, and more. The DoJ says that Apple has "denied users access to super apps" in the U.S., but it is worth noting that there is a cultural aspect to these apps, and they just haven't caught on in the U.S. the way they have in China. Mini apps are often frequently referenced too, as Apple did have restrictions on apps offering mini games and other multi-app features (these restrictions were eliminated in iOS 17.4).
  • Cloud streaming - The DoJ suggests that Apple is suppressing cloud streaming games by preventing them from being available on the App Store. Cloud streaming apps have been usable on Safari, and as of iOS 17.4, Apple changed its rules to allow streaming game apps like Xbox Cloud Gaming to offer streaming games through a single App Store app. This argument is no longer entirely relevant, but the DoJ believes that by not allowing cloud gaming apps, Apple prevented consumers from buying cheaper phones. The idea here is that customers had to opt in to expensive iPhones to play "high-compute" games because they weren't available to play using cloud services.
  • Messaging apps - The DoJ thinks that third-party apps should be able to send and receive SMS messages, rather than these messages being routed to the Messages app. This would let users switch phones without changing the way they communicate. The filing takes issue with the lack of an iMessage app for Android, Apple's efforts to block the Beeper Mini app, green bubbles, and the adoption of RCS.
  • Smartwatches - Apple suppresses key functions of third-party smartwatches, preventing iPhone users from getting Apple Watch-like functionality from smartwatches with "better user interfaces and services." The DoJ says that Apple locks customers in to the iPhone with the Apple Watch, because the Apple Watch can't be used on other smartphones. A user who wants to switch from the iPhone must also purchase an Android-compatible smartwatch.
  • Digital Wallets - Apple does not let banking apps access NFC and provide digital payments services, and customers are not able to choose their "trusted banking apps" as their digital wallet. Apple also prevents developers from creating cross-platform wallets that would make it easier to switch from iPhone to Android, and alternative wallets could also be used for in-app purchases. The DoJ claims that the payments that banks make to Apple for using Apple Pay would otherwise be used for features and benefits for smartphone users.

Privacy and Security

The DoJ suggests that Apple justifies its anticompetitive conduct with privacy and security concerns.
  • Apple spends billions on marketing to promote "the self-serving premise that only Apple can safeguard consumers' privacy and security interests."
  • Apple selectively compromises privacy and security interests when it is in Apple's financial interest. The examples used here include the lack of end-to-end encryption between Android and iPhone messages and the making Google the default browser engine when "more private options" are available.
  • The safe, secure experience on Mac is evidence that Apple's control over app distribution and creation is "substantially more restrictive than necessary to protect user privacy and security."
  • Apple makes the iPhone less secure if that helps it maintain monopoly power. The DoJ cites unencrypted text messages sent from iPhones to Android phones as an example. "If Apple wanted to," it could let iPhone users send encrypted messages to Android users.

The App Store

The DoJ mentions Apple's App Store policies and fees, but it is not the main focus of the lawsuit. While the DoJ was preparing its case, the Apple vs. Epic Games lawsuit took place, and Apple was found not to have a mobile gaming monopoly. That undoubtedly influenced the DoJ filing, but there is wording here... Click here to read rest of article

Article Link: Apple vs. the U.S. Department of Justice: What You Need to Know
Whew this was certainly a read. I’m all for rebalancing anti competitive markets/products, but this suit is all over the place.

The super apps, messaging, smart watch, and privacy sections were really interesting.
 

surfzen21

macrumors 65816
May 31, 2019
1,047
3,944
New York
Virtually all the reporting on this case states that it "will take years." This is not necessarily true. Apple may succeed quickly with a motion to dismiss. Apple has won at least one previous antitrust lawsuit regarding iOS with a motion to dismiss.
If you are referring to the private party antitrust case against apple and google then those were very different cases then the one the Dept of Justice has brought. (Although I have not read through the DOJs suit yet)

Motions to dismiss, especially when there is merit, is very hard to win. They are usually won on procedural grounds like statute of limitations or failure to plead a cause properly. If the DOJ lost after pleadings on a motion to dismiss, they would probably all be fired or resign in shame.

I have won a few motions to dismiss in my life and they were never on the merits of a case. Nor where they on criminal cases. I've had personal traffic tickets dismissed for defects on the charging instrument. If the officer wanted to they could just recharge and cure the defect. They almost never do though.

Also, with regard to cases involving the government, you may see dismissal when the charges are not plead with enough specificity to proceed to trial, but all those would require is a refiling of a more detailed pleading or complaint against a defendant.
 
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