The Justice Department is filing an antitrust lawsuit against Apple

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

The case comes after the European Commission fined Apple 1.8 billion euros ($1.95 billion) to stop music streaming developers from “informing iOS users of available alternative and cheaper music subscription services” outside the App Store. And all this while US lawmakers are pursuing another tech company, TikTok, with much enthusiasm.

The Justice Department alleges that 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-defunct Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud). The suit also alleges that Apple has hindered competing payment platforms, made it more difficult to display Android messages on iPhones, and limited the way competing smartphones integrate with iOS devices.

You could compare Apple’s antitrust lawsuit to Microsoft’s antitrust lawsuit filed against Windows in the late 1990s—even Attorney General Merrick Garland noted those in the suit. But Microsoft indeed dominated computer software then, with over 90 percent of all computers running some version of Windows.

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

— Matt Smith

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