US sues Apple over iPhone ‘monopoly’ including ‘suppressing’ messaging with Android

The US Department of Justice has today announced a lawsuit against Apple that alleges the company has built and maintained a smartphone “monopoly” by locking customers in and making experiences worse for rival products and platforms, including ruining the experience of messaging with Android.

As reported by CNBC, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has sued Apple on the basis that the “iPhone ecosystem” is an illegal monopoly built at the expense of developers, rival phone makers, and Apple’s own customers. The lawsuit also cites Apple’s practices with Apple Watch, FaceTime, browsers, advertising, and news offerings.

Key points of the lawsuit brought out by The Verge include:

  • Disrupting “super apps” that encompass “many different programs”
  • Blocking cloud-streaming apps (which Apple has since reversed course on)
  • “Suppressing” the quality of messaging between iPhone and other platforms such as Android
  • Limiting the functionality of third-party smartwatches on iPhone and making it harder to switch from iPhone if you own an Apple Watch
  • Blocking third-party tap-to-pay wallet apps on iPhone

In a statement to our sister site 9to5Mac, Apple says it will “vigorously defend” against the lawsuit and the company says that the lawsuit “threatens who we are and the principles that set Apple products apart in fiercely competitive markets.”

As part of the prosecution in the suit, the DOJ brings out an infamous quote from Tim Cook where, in 2022, an iPhone user at a Vox Media event said that “I can’t send my mom certain videos” because she used an Android phone, which Cook responded telling the user to “buy your mom and iPhone.”

In 2022, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was asked whether Apple would fix iPhone-toAndroid messaging. “It’s tough,” the questioner implored Mr. Cook, “not to make it personal but
I can’t send my mom certain videos.” Mr. Cook’s response? “Buy your mom an iPhone.”

Quotes from Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General for antitrust Jonathan Kanter in the DOJ’s press release further explain:

If left unchallenged, Apple will only continue to strengthen its smartphone monopoly.

Today’s lawsuit seeks to hold Apple accountable and ensure it cannot deploy the same, unlawful playbook in other vital markets.

This comes after Apple has been forced to make significant changes to iOS following new regulation in the EU, and also as the debacle surrounding Apple’s actions with Beeper Mini mounted pressure from politicians in the US.

As of Q4 2023, Apple commands 64% of the US market according to data from Counterpoint Research. Other figures from the IDC put Apple’s share around 51.9% for 2023 as a whole.

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