20+ U.S. states to move forward with antitrust probe of ‘Big Tech’ firms including Apple

A group of U.S. states is preparing to move forward with a joint antitrust investigation of big technology companies. According to reports, the effort involving “up to 20 or more” U.S. state attorneys general is expected to be formally launched as soon as next month.

Alison Durkee for Vanity Fair:

The Wall Street Journal reports that a group of state attorneys general is preparing to move forward with their own antitrust investigation into the tech industry, which could be launched as soon as next month. While the report does not specify a target, similar governmental probes have focused on the Big Four tech companies: Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.

Just how many attorneys general will be participating in the investigation remains unclear, though one source told the Journal there could be “up to 20 or more” states involved.

MacDailyNews Take: 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, not Apple.

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.

22 Comments

  1. Once again, for anyone who wants to hear it… The problem is not and will not be the numerical marketshare of Apple vs. Samsung, etc. It will be all about the “power” apple exercises over their iPhones even after the sale. E.g., you can only buy/install what Apple allows (in the iOS App Store), you may only do things Apple’s way, etc.

    They will cry, “I bought it and I should be able to do whatever I want with it!” So many of them now come from Windows and Android, and they don’t care a fig about privacy or security — theirs or anyone else’s. They are what MDN used to call, “the HeeHaw Market.”

    And when politicians get involved, it will no longer be about what’s Right, but what’s best for their own public profile. I vote Apple, but that won’t sway any of them.

    1. you covered the main points succinctly.

      Besides malware protection Apple’s processes also try to make sure apps are optimized and integrates seamlessly with iOS. That they for example properly use the cameras, GPS etc.

      The crazy high satisfaction rating for Apple products is the integration of hardware, OS and apps.

      You mention people coming over from Windows and Android who don’t understand this. Correct. They know iPhones are better but they think it’s ‘just’ the shiny hardware and not the ‘complete eco system’.

      they are like residents of an area living in disease ridden slum and then see a pristine managed neighbourhood with good gardens, safe walkways etc.

      Then they decide to move and buy property there and then argue against the ‘rules’. they say want to park car wrecks, old appliances on their property, rent out tents to their friends , not cut the grass, process crystal meth yelling ‘I OWN this, i can do what I want’ , i.e want to do things that will totally wreck the place and Make it the Same as what they left.

      So many argue ‘opening’ up iOS to make it like Android.

      They are trying to make the ‘new’ place like the wreck of their old .

      (People don’t understand that this isn’t even good for legit developers as Android third party stores are rife with PIRATE versions. Some android developers say 9 out of 10 of ‘their’ apps installed are pirate versions filled with malware.

      Developers who want to break Apple’s App Store are often the ones who want to load malware like trackers now not allowed by Apple. Trackers and other malware are big money earners. That’s why Facebook Google can make hundreds billions giving out ‘free’ services).

      Apple even stopped giant Facebook when it tried to track teenagers in contravention of their user disclosure. And other apps that misuse the camera etc.

      If Apple is forced to ‘open’ up many apps like Facebook might move completely out of the App Store. Then there would be no longer Apple’s safeguards. If Apps you use regularly moves completely out to of the app store you are faced with chore of checking the apps, sorting out the dozens of pirate versions etc. Good apps today might decide to add trackers when the move out. A real nightmare.

      Even if I keep my own phone pristine interacting or collaborating with others in the cloud with people with PIRATE malware versions of the app might compromise my phone.
      Note also Malware checkers on Android are near completely useless. In Android forums many times tech gurus simply advise affected users to ‘throw the phone away’.

      After a LONG article on how to cure malware on an android, AndroidCentral ends with “Going through the pain of a factory reset then finding out that some malware is written to the system files and not your user data means you did everything in vain”

    2. The people who complain that Apple isn’t an open ecology fall into two categories: those who have a financial stake in the Android ecosystem, and those who have a solid tech background and know how to keep themselves safe. Most iOS users are outside both categories.

      I just keep thinking of my father, who spent fifty years in a very tech-heavy business, rising to President of his company. After he retired, his Windows PC got so clogged with malware that it just stopped working. An Android phone would have done the same. My mother (92) has an iPad and has never had a single problem. Take her out of the “walled garden” and she will be prey for hackers, hucksters, and fraudsters.

      1. I KNOW THE SCAM:
        Apple has a monopoly on top notch security and top notch privacy and Apple excludes big, intrusive gov. trackers and its allies a d enablers. so it investigates how it can break into Apple’s secure and private ecosystem in order to make it less secure and less private. This is the scam.

        1. as i explained above the eco system itself might be compromised.
          You can’t isolate yourself.

          The apps you use regularly might move completely out of the app store. Then besides checking if the apps have added malware like trackers you have to sort through pirate versions . Apple has even stopped Facebook as I mentioned. for adding trackers on unawares teenagers. If Facebook moves completely out, and some people like businesses need Facebook, you lose Apple’s added security.

          Also you might have a legit app but your cloud collaborators might have an infected pirate version from a third party store and you get infected

          Also developers wanting to add malware via third party stores might fight against Apple’s security protocols if their apps are prevented from loading, crying ‘non competitive ‘. This might force Apple to lower iOS standards compromising the entire eco system. Allowing side loading is one big reason why Android is so vulnerable, the system itself is weak in defending malware (less sand boxing etc)

        2. Cynic, you really don’t have a clue about real-world computer users, do you? When somebody who retired from her outside employment in 1949 gets one of those “Install our protective app or else!” messages, do you really expect her to ignore it? iPad OS currently protects her. An open OS wouldn’t.

          1. I really don’t wish to be this arrogant, but there is a greater purpose. No sir, I expect to not be held back in my own property due to their ignorance. Build a rubber room and put them in it, but allow those so inclined to exit.

            AOL was the “safe” version of the internet, but it wasn’t tied to device as the only way.

            1. “but allow those so inclined to exit.”

              as we’ve said over and over you CAN exit. Go to hundreds of other phones besides iPhone. Absolutely no one is stopping you.

            2. Exit, re-enter, re-exit, run an anti-Jobs app, or a gun app, or an app depicting anything legal of which Apple disapproves.

              You have yet to answer me if you would be okay if MS were the sole channel for Windows applications.

            3. Cynic, so your answer for the malware threat is to call for the institutionalization of everybody who isn’t as clever about software as you are? We should put old folks in “rubber rooms” and I suppose we should put children who might be stalked into brothels, since it is their fault they can’t protect themselves. While we are at it, we should close all the tax-supported hospitals so those who can’t provide their own medical care will die and get out of your way. If you can’t feel normal human empathy, at least try to fake it.

            4. Less so than calling for the forced institutionalization of everybody. The institution should have a door.

              Off the rails on the hospital remark. There are more than one hospital to choose from. If one chooses not to treat certain types of disease, there are others that do, and they don’t require you to change your car to go there.

        1. Lucky for us that free markets exist and Apple gets to do what it likes with its products and services and customers get to make their own choices and don’t have to do what you think is best. In other news you are free to have your opinions but nothing you say matters. You’re not changing anyone’s mind. Nothing you do affects Apple in the slightest. All you can do is choose not to buy from Apple and maybe try and get a handful of other people to not buy from Apple but my guess is the people around you are sick and tired of hearing your Apple rants and don’t take you seriously. They might pretend to but they’re not listening to you. AAPL just over $210 today. What was that months ago about AAPL crashing? Heh heh heh.

            1. They can build the product any way they want including the OS which limits side loading. You bought the product including the OS AS IS.

              (this is simply true . To add third party apps you need to JAILBREAK the phone which means ALTER the product from when it was bought).

              What you’re doing is actually whining and trying to force Apple to change their product AFTER you bought it knowing that it can’t run outside apps.

              It’s like you bought a gas car and then complain saying that the auto manufacturer should include a option for electric engine for you to install AFTER you bought it.

              yes you own it but you own a phone not designed to run apps from outside the app store. Too bad.

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