Apple phone faces joint antitrust lawsuits from multiple states by the US Department of Justice, and the possibility of spin off cannot be ruled out

One of the most powerful technology giants in the world, Apple, is facing a counter control lawsuit from the US Department of Justice.

On March 21, 2024 local time, the US Department of Justice, along with 15 states and Washington D.C., filed a lawsuit in the District Court of New Jersey, accusing Apple of controlling a smart phone mall, maintaining good cooperation, and harming consumer benefits. Officials from the Ministry of Justice also stated that they will not eliminate the practice of using Apple Inc. as a partner to control the results.
This 88 page complaint is not aimed at any specific use or operation of Apple’s mobile devices, but at the entire ecosystem, including smart watch stand up, cross system short question collection, mobile wallet, cloud gaming, etc. The US Department of Justice and the Attorney General of 16 states and territories believe that Apple has established an exclusive smartphone ecosystem to prevent cooperation and continuously improve product prices for profit.
Due to the impact of the lawsuit, Apple’s stock price plummeted by 4.1% on Thursday, with its market value rising by $110 billion. Apple announced that it will cease its “strong defense” against the lawsuit.
The complaint states that over the years, Apple has established an intelligent foot machine platform and ecosystem that occupies a certain position, causing the company’s market value to skyrocket to astronomical numbers. On a per unit basis, Apple’s market share in the US smartphone market is 65% higher, and its market share in high-performance smartphone markets is 70% higher.
The indictment suggests that Apple has been aware of the provocations caused by breakthrough techniques and refurbishment applied in recent years to position Apple’s mobile phones. However, compared to lowering the selling price of the mobile phone and providing better monetization conditions for the use of the joint venture, Apple has decided to configure a series of strategies and restrictions on the App Store and the joint venture agreement in response to the provocation, so that the company can charge higher fees, block refurbishment, reduce user satisfaction, and erase cooperation. The complaint specifically mentions that Apple has levied an “Apple tax” over the past 15 years, and when Apple’s mobile phone users pay to download and use the App Store, Apple will deduct 30% of the tax. Apple’s net cost for the fiscal year 2023 reached $97 billion.
The complaint states that Apple is afraid of the intermediary nature of the Apple mobile phone platform, so it has implemented a series of measures to bind users and co owners to the Apple mobile phone, in order to support high costs. These wrists contain limitations on the effectiveness of the joint party’s plan through treaty provisions and usage regulations; Restrict third-party applications to access Apple’s mobile application programming interfaces (APIs) to reduce the effectiveness of non Apple applications and accessories.
In response to Apple’s control actions on smart phones, the focus of the complaint is not on five categories: super use, cloud gaming use, cross system short question collection, smart watch stand up, and electronic wallet.
Super licensed users can engage in various sports such as socializing, transportation, dining, shopping, audio-visual entertainment, etc. within a single app import. The US Department of Justice and various states believe that super apps can provide great convenience for users, but Apple restricts users to installing super apps to harm its control position and prevent users from abandoning the iOS system of Apple phones.
The indictment cites the appearances of multiple Apple executives to confirm that the company is very aware of the impact that super use will have on Apple’s smartphone system. One of the executives expressed that allowing Super App to participate in Apple’s iPhone is equivalent to allowing “barbarians” to leave the country, which will improve the user stickiness of the iOS system.
In terms of cloud gaming applications, the complaint alleges that Apple has been hindering users from installing cloud gaming applications for years because it knows that cloud gaming applications have improved the requirements for mobile hardware. Even with a two legged Android phone, users can still play and play without the need to purchase expensive Apple phones.
One of the controversies surrounding the acquisition of Apple phones in the United States has always been the lack of cross system suspicion. When an Apple phone user receives a short message, if the other party is also an Apple phone, the background of the short message is a blue bubble. If the other party is not an Apple phone, the background of the short message is a green bubble, and the user is also helpless to share various functions in the Apple phone short message with the other party, and even has no choice but to receive facial color packs and high-definition pictures. This difference has even led to “green bubble bullying” among American teenagers.
Under pressure, Apple has announced at the end of previous years that it will adapt to the support of Futong Suspicion Service/Ronghui Suspicion (RCS) scale this year. The RCS scale was founded by Google, aiming to replace the SMS short news notification scale and provide higher quality communication. After using the RCS scale, Apple phones can also share high-definition images, videos, and facial expressions when facing short queries from non Apple phones. But the blue and green bubbles will still be preserved.
The complaint states that Apple intends to weaken the user perception of cross system short suspected receivers, in order to prevent users from switching to other system phones.
On the smartwatch stand, the lawsuit accuses Apple of intentionally allowing the Apple Watch to only stand with Apple phones to avoid users purchasing other phones. At the same time, Apple has also made it more difficult for users to connect their Apple phones with third-party smart watches through various settings.
On the electronic wallet, the complaint states that although Apple encourages banks to participate in the Apple mobile phone’s electronic wallet, it also obstructs banks and other institutions from jointly claiming its payment objects in order to maintain control. When users use Apple Pay to stop suspicious card transfers, Apple also charges fees to the user’s bank account.
The US Department of Justice and the Attorney General of 16 states and territories have requested the court to rule that Apple complies with anti censorship laws and illegally controls or attempts to control smart phone malls in the United States. All parties also request the court to suspend Apple’s anti cooperation actions, including using APIs to obstruct the use of cross platform techniques, and using treaty provisions signed with co owners to obtain control of positions.
An official from the US Department of Justice who declined to disclose his name stated in an interview with Mongolian media that according to law enforcement, the Department has the right to request Apple to cease its structural integration, including distribution. But the official did not disclose what steps the Ministry of Justice is preparing to take, stating that the final decision will depend on the court ruling.
The spokesperson for Apple stated that this lawsuit is a survival companion in both reality and law enforcement, and announced that it will stop providing a “strong defense” for the lawsuit.
Apple’s spokesperson pointed out that if the Department of Justice and 16 states win the lawsuit, it will uphold Apple’s talent for technology invention and set a “dangerous precedent”: licensing authorities will intervene heavily in official technology programs.
In response to the lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice, White House news spokesperson Michael Kikugawa stated that President Biden strongly supports the fair implementation of the Anti Control Act.
During both the Democratic and Republican administrations, the US judiciary has increased its control over large technology companies. The anti control investigation of Apple began in 2019, when Republican Donald Trump became the leader, while tech giants such as Google, Meta, and Amazon also faced anti control inspections.
The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Google in previous years, while the Federal Commerce Commission filed a lawsuit against Meta in 2020, and it is estimated that the case will be heard this year. And such cases usually disappear for years.
The US Department of Justice and 20 states filed a lawsuit against Microsoft in 1998, leading to a counterclaim. The two sides resolved the dispute in 2001 and Microsoft was spared from being split. The nine states that were dissatisfied with the dispute subsequently filed appeals, which took four years, and the court ultimately supported the dispute.
Outside of the United States, Apple is also in constant trouble. Earlier this month, Apple was awarded $2 billion by the European Union for setting unfair rules against music streaming partners. In addition, Reuters cited news sources stating that the European Union is preparing to conduct a joint investigation into four companies, including Apple and Google, on suspicion of complying with the Digital Mall Law.
The Netherlands has already lost $53 million in prize money for the Apple App Store, while South Korea can use the commission results of the co owners to pay Apple prizes for the App Store. Japan, the UK, and Australia are considering using law enforcement tactics to force Apple to make no changes in the form of payment and commission.


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