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HOT TAKE: DOJ's Antitrust Lawsuit Against Apple is Dead on Arrival

Apple LogoI’m not an anti-trust lawyer, so naturally I’m going to give you my opinion on the US Department of Justice lawsuit filed against Apple today.

In short: it’s going nowhere.

I know, hot take…but hear me out.

The nut of the argument is not that Apple has a smartphone monopoly, because that would be a preposterous claim.  Apple has only about 23% of the smartphone market, with Android having nearly all the rest (there are still some Blackberry holdouts).

So what DOJ is claiming is that there is another “performance smartphone” market that Apple dominates.  And that’s going to be mighty hard to prove.

One of the things the court is immediately going to want is a clear, very clear market definition.  And there’s all kinds of ways to shoot holes in the “performance smartphone market” idea.  Is an iPhone 15 a performance smartphone?  Or just the iPhone Pro?  Pro Max?  Seems like there are Google models (to say nothing of Samsung, et al.) that directly compete.

Sure, the DOJ is mad that Apple users get blue bubbles and the integration with watches and such is tighter that with other platforms, but is that really monopolistic?  I can use my AirPods with Windows.  I can reply to texts on my Windows desktop.  Seems a stretch…

…especially when DOJ says “structural relief” is on the table.  That’s lawspeak for breaking up Apple.  Give me a break.  If “performance smartphones” are really the problem, how would that work?  “Old Apple, you can make the iPhone 25 (by the time this gets through the courts), but you need to spin off a separate company to make the iPhone 25 Pro”.

Apple over time will be forced to integrate other app stores and make its messaging more interoperable, etc. but since the industry behemoth probably has more money in its legal department than the Department of Justice antitrust department, they’re going to make this very slow and very painful for DOJ.  They tried to break up IBM with a 1969 lawsuit that went 13 years before DOJ dropped it owing to IBM’s unrelenting legal battle.  IBM was a lot smaller.  You think they’ll fare better against Apple?

And of course, it’s an election year.


1 Comment

  1. This is definitely a great piece. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain everything to us. Thanks for the great guide!

    April 2, 2024 @ 10:50 pm | Reply

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