DOJ files antitrust case against Apple

Jingyue Hsiao, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

The Justice Department (DOJ) and 16 other state and district attorneys general have filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Apple.

The lawsuit alleges that Apple has unlawfully monopolized or attempted to monopolize smartphone markets, violating Section 2 of the Sherman Act. According to the complaint filed in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, Apple maintains its monopoly over smartphones by imposing contractual restrictions on developers and withholding critical access points.

This behavior stifles competition from apps, products, and services that could reduce reliance on iPhones, promote interoperability, and lower costs for consumers and developers. The lawsuit aims to restore competition in these markets for the benefit of the American public.

According to DOJ, Apple was accused of blocking innovative super apps, suppressing mobile cloud streaming services, excluding cross-platform messaging apps, diminishing the functionality of non-Apple smartwatches, and limiting third-party digital wallets.

US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in the press release that consumers should not have to pay higher prices because companies violate antitrust laws. US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said through today's action, the DOJ reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to the principle that no matter how powerful, prominent, or popular, no company is above the law.

Bloomberg analysts said in a note that the antitrust lawsuit added to regulatory issues Apple is facing in other regions and might weigh on App Store sales in the long term. However, the lawsuit may take years to resolve, and Apple might find grounds to defend its actions by emphasizing that a significant portion of its actions are linked to prioritizing privacy and security concerns.

In addition to the US, the European Union's Digital Markets Act took effect in March. This act allows consumers to download software from outside the App Store, use alternative payment systems, and choose their preferred web browser.

According to Bloomberg data, Apple has been involved in five antitrust cases in 2024. In 2020, a comparable antitrust lawsuit targeting major tech companies emerged when the Department of Justice filed a case against Google for its dominant position in search and, in another instance, for its advertising operations.

Source: Bloomberg, March 2024