The US government accuses Apple of monopolistic practices in the smartphone market

The US government has initiated a significant legal battle against Apple, alleging that the tech giant monopolised the smartphone industry and hindered competition. In a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice and joined by attorneys general from 16 states, Apple is accused of leveraging its control over the iPhone app store to retain customers and stifle rivals.

Filed in a federal court in New Jersey, the lawsuit presents a formidable challenge to Apple’s practices, which have faced increasing criticism. It alleges that Apple engaged in various tactics, such as manipulating app review processes and restricting access to hardware and software, to boost profits while impeding innovation and inflating costs for consumers.

Attorney General Merrick Garland underscored that Apple’s actions led to higher prices for consumers and violated federal antitrust laws. The complaint focuses on five key areas where Apple allegedly exerted its dominance, including hindering the development of certain apps and limiting compatibility with rival products.

Apple has defended its actions, arguing that its rules prioritise privacy and security concerns. The company contends that customer loyalty stems from satisfaction with its products and services. Nonetheless, the lawsuit underscores the government’s assertion that Apple’s behaviour is anticompetitive and lacks justification.

Legal experts suggest that the case’s outcome will depend on whether Apple’s actions can be deemed to have legitimate business justifications or if they were solely intended to stifle competition and maintain its monopoly.

The lawsuit has already impacted Apple, with its shares dropping more than 4% following the announcement. While any resulting changes would likely take years to materialise, legal scholars view the case as a pivotal moment in the ongoing scrutiny of major tech companies’ business practices.

This legal challenge reflects broader regulatory trends targeting big tech firms. Apple has faced previous legal battles, including an ongoing dispute with Epic Games over app store policies and a recent €1.8 billion fine from the EU for anticompetitive behaviour in the music streaming market.

The lawsuit highlights growing concerns about Apple’s dominance in the smartphone market and its effects on competition and consumer choice. Legal experts view the government’s action as signalling a more aggressive stance on antitrust enforcement and emphasise the importance of holding tech giants accountable for their practices.