Apple wants U.S. Supreme Court to undo previous decision regarding an antitrust suit

“Apple on Monday again urged the U.S. Supreme Court to undo a Ninth Circuit decision reviving an antitrust suit from app buyers accusing the tech giant of illegally monopolizing the iPhone, reports Law360,” Dennis Sellers reports for Apple World Today.

“A group of iPhone users had sued, saying the tech giant’s practice is anticompetitive,” Sellers reports. “Apple argued that users didn’t have standing to sue it because they purchased apps from developers, with Apple simply renting out space to those developers.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Setting aside the security implications, the Ninth Circuit decision should be overturned simply because Apple’s App Store customers are the app developers, not the app consumers.

Apple owns the shopping mall. The developers pay Apple for space within. The end customer buys their apps from the developers. Indirect purchasers of goods or services along a supply chain cannot seek remedies over antitrust claims.

See Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois.

U.S. Supreme Court will decide if Apple’s App Store is an anti-competitive monopoly – June 19, 2018
U.S. Supreme Court to consider Apple appeal in antitrust suit over App Store prices – June 18, 2018
US DOJ sides with Apple over App Store antitrust allegations in Supreme Court brief – May 10, 2018
9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revives antitrust lawsuit against Apple – January 13, 2017
Apple App Store antitrust complaint dismissed on procedural grounds by U.S. judge – August 16, 2013


    1. For me, the security Apple’s “mall” provides trumps (is that word ruined now…?) an open model. There are plenty of apps available in the App store (iOS), so limiting diversity or abundance is not an issue. I imagine there may be some developers out there that would like to avoid the fees to Apple for hosting, security, etc., but I am not sure offering iOS users a “wild west” environment (like on Android – check out how much malware-infected apps there are out there for that platform – right in Google’s store) would be beneficial for the users. With regard to hardware and software platforms, we must always ask who “openness” and “closed” benefits. The answer is not always the same. Google touted the openness of Android from the beginning (they had to differentiate somehow), but the openness only helped the phone manufacturers and wireless service providers, while leaving the Android user base hopelessly fragmented – many unable to upgrade to a newer version of the OS. In the end, this is not good for the developers. So, I prefer Apple’s model.

      1. While I agree on your point regarding security, I think the core of the argument here is that by Apple keeping the App Store the only source for iOS apps, they are creating a situation (monopoly?) where market forces have no way to allow competition to normalize App Store costs to developers. This in turn affects consumers since like any overhead/increases on developers/businesses, they are usually just passed on to consumers.

        Allowing 3rd party ‘sources’ for Apps can be an option like it is on Android/FireOS that needs to be turned on. This would mean the average iOS user that is not savvy enough would never turn it on an still remain ‘safe’ as they do now acquiring iOS Apps from only Apple’s App store.

        In the end the case boils down to providing an option. Apple will have to defend by providing reasoning for not providing that option and monopolizing control over iOS App sales sources.

      1. The owner of the machine should have a choice. Security is important. security by censorship is not necessarily so. For those overtly concerned, they would be free to stay within the “friendly confines”.

    2. Being “anti-competitive” is not a crime, in and of itself. What public business promotes competition?

      The issue at hand is illegal anti-competitive actions arising from a monopoly situation in a given market segment.

      1. Many devices include software, and many of them do not support third party software, or even provide software updates during the life of the device.

        Apple significantly advanced capabilities in terms of OS upgrades and apps for handheld mobile devices. Unfortunately, Apple is now being punished for its incredible success over the last decade or so with the iPhone and iPad. Too many people, including the U.S. Government, seem to believe that they have a right to control Apple’s business activities because Apple has become so large and is major driver of innovation and technology advancement and infusion into the mass market.

        Who else would/could develop something like the Apple Watch and evolve it to series 4? Who else could embed the health and medical features into a compact wearable computer starting from the basic concept? Sure, there are companies who can copy the AW and the iPhone and other Apple devices with varying degrees of success. But none of them have the innovation capabilities of Apple.

  1. Can you get an iphone developer kit and write your own apps, then load the compiled version to your own phone?

    If that’s true, then there would not a be a “monopoly” if you can load your own program

    1. Yes, that is possible but for a limited number of devices you could probably count on both hands and toes. That is unless you have a Enterprise level developer license which allows installation to a larger number of iOS devices ‘owned’ by the Enterprise for which the license is given. Neither of which allows a 3rd party iOS App store to be viable. This would still indicate a ‘monopoly’ over iOS App sales.

  2. Here’s a concept. Why not let Apple do whatever the heck they want with the iPhone? Until Apple has some massive monopoly power on market choice of which phone to buy, this is stuck on stupid…

    – or –

    This phone market is confusing and costly. The Government should take over Apple and as many handset makers it can, and then subsidize them and make one iPhone be the only phone for everyone. They’ll be cheap to the consumer and the consumer will have one great choice – the gPhone (Government Phone). It’ll be great! Oh wait, that’s what the Libs want us to do with healthcare, never mind…

    1. That’s a little off topic But since you brought it up, your argument is a straw man, and not a very good one at that. What the libs want to do is to let you get your healthcare where ever you want, from whomever you want. They just want a single payor source, financed by taxes rather than insurance premiums, to negotiate prices, fund preventative care, and keep costs more in line with what the same level of care costs in every other developed county except the US. I have tried to come up with an analogous example involving iPhones, but it has eluded me.

      1. That is categorically untrue.

        The Romney (“Obamacare”) plan just required all citizens to choose from a minimum care national plan that offered comprehensive preventative coverage, or anyone was welcome to buy private insurance. There was transitional costs but trillions would be saved in the long run by taxpayers not having to pay for uninsured deadbeats clogging up emergency rooms for what could be easily prevented conditions.

        Here is why the right wing REALLY doesn’t want there to be a nonprofit option. Insurance companies LOVE having a fractured market with monopoly positions in rural markets. Price gouging is easy. If insurance companies had to compete against a nationwide nonprofit, they would have to reduce prices. So to protect their greedy incumbent positions, they chanted the evils of Obamacare while ratcheting up huge overpricing to trick people into thinking that the Romney healthcare model doesn’t work. It works fine in Massachusetts.

        Americans still have no means of shopping for healthcare options and no affordable insurance from greedy for profit providers. Neither doctors nor consumers know what anything costs. Is that capitalism? The old greed based healthcare racket sucks. Trump aint doin shit to fix it either.

        If they hate socialized medicine so much, why does Congress continue to enjoy gold plated socially funded benefits on taxpayers dime? Hypocrisy!!!!!

      1. My comment is not responding to your iPhone comment, specifically. It is intended to address the more general case, which places your simple, but flawed, logic in perspective.

        Have you actually read any of the agreements that you have signed over the years with Apple, Microsoft, and other companies? You would be surprised how many things that you purchased, but do not actually own. In many cases, your purchased licenses to use something. I am not saying that this is right. I am not defending this practice. I actually see it as a circumvention of laws intended to protect consumers. But there is no denying that this is the case.

  3. @MDN
    Legally speaking, the “shopping mall” analogy doesn’t quite fit as shopping mall owners don’t ask for a percentage of sales, and Apple doesn’t charge a flat fee for the space in there app store.

    1. @theothersteve
      I think you will find that nearly all retail store providers charge a percentage of gross sales. I have worked at at least two dozen retail establishments around the US, and each one of them charged a percentage of gross sales, inanition to the fee for occupying the store.

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