Mar 21, 2024 - Technology

Justice Dept. lawsuit hits Apple at its core

Animated illustration of a gavel smashing the Apple logo until only a core is left.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Department of Justice's sweeping new antitrust suit against Apple threatens the iPhone maker's core practice — integrating hardware, software and services.

Why it matters: That approach has delighted customers and made the iPhone a global standard — but it also arguably locks users in and unfairly enriches Apple at the expense of potential rivals.

U.S. antitrust law places tighter rules on proven monopolies.

  • The Biden administration — which is already engaged in major legal challenges of Google, Meta and Amazon — must first prove Apple monopolizes the smartphone market, then show the firm is abusing its power.
  • If it can do that, it could force Apple to disentangle its popular iMessage app, its app store and other landmarks of its closed ecosystem from the iPhone, giving competitors more access to its customers.

Yes, but: These suits are long, slow slogs that take years to resolve and more years to appeal. Meanwhile, tech changes at lightning speed.

  • The smartphone era is already mature, and AI is the new platform. By the time this suit is resolved, it could feel like yesterday's fight.
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