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Justice Department accuses Apple of monopolizing smartphone market

The US has filed a landmark lawsuit against Apple, accusing the tech giant of monopolizing the smartphone market and crushing competition. Regulatory actions from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the European Commission (EC) coupled with growing public pressure paint a picture of a company potentially abusing its market dominance.

The DOJ lawsuit centers on Apple’s control of the App Store, specifically its 30% commission on in-app purchases and its restrictions on alternative payment methods. The EC echoes these concerns, calling them “anti-competitive” and demanding Apple allow developers to inform users of outside payment options.

Analysts see this as a more comprehensive attack than previous challenges. Professor Anat Alon-Beck highlights the DOJ’s focus on “core unfair practices,” suggesting a broader fight against Apple’s walled garden ecosystem. This ecosystem, where users are largely confined to Apple-approved apps and services, is seen by critics as stifling innovation and hurting consumers.

Apple defends its App Store fees, arguing they fund curation and security. However, critics point out the vast profits Apple generates and question the necessity of such high fees. Additionally, Apple’s tight control over app distribution gives it immense power to dictate terms to developers, potentially hindering competition and raising consumer prices.

Beyond regulatory issues, Apple faces growing public pressure. Right-to-repair advocates criticize its restrictions on user access to device components and repairs. Additionally, concerns about worker conditions in its sprawling supply chain continue to tarnish the brand’s image.

Apple remains a formidable company, but the tide seems to be turning. With regulators circling and public trust potentially waning, Apple must navigate these challenges carefully. Whether it chooses to open up its ecosystem, address pricing concerns, or improve transparency in its practices will determine if it can retain its position at the forefront of the tech world.

(Photo source: CTTO)