U.S. Department of Justice sues Apple over alleged smartphone monopoly

The U.S. Department of Justice, along with 15 states, initiated legal action against Apple on Thursday, alleging monopolistic practices in the smartphone market. This move is part of a broader crackdown on Big Tech, with other major players like Google, Meta Platforms, and Amazon facing similar scrutiny under both the Trump and Biden administrations.

Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized the importance of maintaining fair market practices, highlighting concerns over elevated consumer prices resulting from anticompetitive behavior. The lawsuit claims Apple’s pricing strategies, including charging up to $1,599 for an iPhone, contribute to its dominance and profitability in the industry. Additionally, Apple allegedly imposes fees on various business partners, indirectly raising prices for consumers while bolstering its own profits.

The lawsuit traces Apple’s business model back to its origins in the personal computer market, where premium pricing and strict control over product usage defined its approach. Seeking to disrupt this model, the Justice Department aims to introduce more consumer choice by challenging Apple’s tight control over hardware and software integration.

In response, Apple vehemently denied the accusations, asserting that the lawsuit jeopardizes its commitment to innovation and competitive markets. The White House reiterated support for enforcing antitrust laws vigorously to ensure fair competition.

The lawsuit proposes remedies that could potentially reshape Apple’s market dominance, including structural changes or downsizing. It specifically targets practices that hinder competition, such as restrictions on competing apps and services. The complaint also references internal communications from late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, suggesting a deliberate strategy to stifle competition and lock in consumers.

While the exact outcomes of the lawsuit remain uncertain, it represents a significant escalation in the ongoing regulatory battle against tech giants. Apple’s legal challenges extend beyond the U.S., with investigations and legal actions underway in Europe and other regions. These global efforts underscore the growing scrutiny and pushback against perceived anticompetitive practices within the tech industry.