Apple, not Google or Facebook, the target of global antitrust regulators

Mark Scott for Politico:

Apple – not Facebook or Google – is rapidly emerging as the test case for how officials in Brussels, Washington and beyond clamp down on Big Tech’s digital empires spanning vast swathes of the world, according to government officials, tech rivals and lawyers representing consumers in class-action lawsuits against the iPhone maker.

Other Silicon Valley heavy-hitters are also under a renewed spotlight for allegedly unfairly promoting their services over those of rivals. But with European regulatory complaints and U.S lawsuits piling up against Apple, it’s the tech giant that now finds itself at the center of a regulatory — and increasingly political — storm over possible antitrust abuses. The U.S. Department of Justice also opened its own antitrust investigation into the dominance of tech companies’ online platforms on July 23.

Ahead of next year’s U.S. presidential election and a new European Commission starting work in November, industry executives claim that lawmakers and officials have targeted tech firms like Apple as an easy vote winner amid a souring of the general public’s view of Silicon Valley… With European Union policymakers already reviewing two separate antitrust complaints against the company, and the U.S. Department of Justice pushing ahead with its own probe into online platforms, Apple is in the crosshairs of renewed regulatory actions by some of the world’s most powerful government agencies.

MacDailyNews Take: Typical of politicians to take on the one company mentioned with nothing near a monopoly in any market in which it competes while putting the two companies with clear monopolies — and extensive evidence of abuse of their monopoly positions by both — on the back burner. The real problems where too much power is concentrated and the potential for abuse of their market power is greatest is clearly Google and Facebook.

Since Apple does not have a monopoly in any market in which they participate, there is no legal basis for action against Apple Inc.

So, Apple’s case, there is no monopoly (which is legal by the way), much less monopoly abuse (which is explicitly impossible given the nonexistence of a monopoly). You cannot abuse a monopoly and therefore face antitrust action when you do not have a monopoly to begin with.

Worldwide smartphone OS market share, February 2019:

• Android: 74.15%
• iOS: 23.28%

As we wrote on May 13th regarding the App Store legal challenge(s):

We think the ultimate ending to this legal challenge will be that developers will be able to accept payments in their apps without being forced to give Apple a cut or as much of a cut as today.

Companies that currently are large enough to work around Apple and send users to their own sites for payment include Amazon and Netflix. Apple will likely need to end this practice and allow all developers to allow users to subscribe to services, buy ebooks, etc. within their apps without a 15%-30% fee. A smaller fee may be tenable, as Apple does have costs to run the App Store, of course. We’ll see after the legal gears grind glacially and eventually spit out their end results.

By the way: On every iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and iPad mini box, the potential buyer is informed of requirements, including “iTunes X.x or later required for some features” and also that an “iTunes Store account” is required. The plaintiffs were informed of the requirements prior to purchase. If the plaintiffs didn’t like the terms that came along with Apple devices, they should have opted for a pretend iPhone from any one of a dime-a-dozen handset assemblers. Then they could blissfully infest their fake iPhones with malware from a variety of sources.

Note also that Apple doesn’t set the prices for paid apps.

Lastly, the amount by which Apple Inc. has driven down software prices across the board, on every major computing platform, makes legal actions such as this eminently laughable.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Sherif Laoun” for the heads up.]


  1. Despite assertions by pandering politicians that Apple is a monopoly and absurd rationales for why they are (iOS App Store is the only place to get iOS apps, etc.), this has nothing to do with protecting consumers, anti-competitive behavior, etc., etc.

    Apple is a target for one reason and that reason alone… money.

  2. If the App Store truly delivers apps in a more secure fashion in comparison with other portals with greater uncertainty/variables, as would be the case if all apps were delivered on each developer’s site, isn’t it reasonable to assume both the cost developers and the “limitation” consumers incur serve a reasonable consumer safeguard?

    If Apple can truly live up to it’s security/privacy claims in the app Store realm, amongst other portals/services, it would be my choice to choose “limitation,” as security/privacy is extremely high on my list. The key word here is, choice…I do choose and will choose this path. I’m not being rail-roaded, as “anti-trust” and “monopoly” implies.

  3. I don’t understand the problem with the 15–30%. It’s a commission like your insurance agent gets for selling you a policy. Even if you auto renew, they still get the commission without ever talking to you. Also, if I to an AT&T (or Verizon or Spring) authorized reseller, they get a percentage of the ongoing subscription, too.

    How are either of these cases substantially different from what Apple is doing?

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