a week later Apple finds itself embroiled in a landmark lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice and vehemently denies any resemblance to the Microsoft of the 1990s. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland leaned heavily into that comparison in a filing last week.

While the U.S. case against Microsoft Corp. was partially overturned, the Windows maker was ultimately required to modify certain business practices that the government deemed a monopoly. Garland and the 16 state attorneys general involved in the Apple lawsuit are undoubtedly seeking a similar outcome to curtail practices they say constitute an unfair advantage for the $2.65 trillion company.

“In 1998, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs criticized Microsoft’s monopoly and ‘dirty tactics’ in operating systems against Apple, prompting the company to ‘file a complaint to the Department of Justice’ in the hope of allowing Microsoft to ‘level the playing field.’ “This severely implies Apple’s hypocrisy,” the lawsuit states. “But even then, Apple didn’t face the same types of restrictions imposed on third parties today; Apple users could use their iPods on Windows computers, and Microsoft didn’t charge Apple with every song downloaded from Apple’s iTunes store. Charge a 30% fee. Likewise, when Apple brought the iPhone to market in 2007, it benefited from competition among component makers and wireless carriers.”

For its part, Apple’s global iPhone numbers are well below the 90%-plus market share that Windows enjoyed before the turn of the century.A lawsuit like this is a rare opportunity to see how a major company brags about rare The devices they sell are relative to the broader market. In fact, with that number hovering around 20% globally, it’s hard to argue that the company is dominating the competition the way Microsoft dominated Apple 25 years ago.

Indeed, the iPhone has performed particularly well in its home market, where it faces less direct competition from the many low-cost phones in India and China (the first and second markets, respectively). However, Apple said the DOJ’s statement that it had “more than 65% share of the total U.S. smartphone market” was misleading because it referred to revenue rather than sales. Of the latter, the company believes it captures less than half of the domestic market.

The difference between these numbers comes down to price per unit. The U.S. Department of Justice shows here that Apple holds 70% of the “high-performance” smartphone market. Of course, Apple’s devices very much fall into the high-end category, and the company controls a large portion of that category in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice may have difficulty proving that it constitutes a monopoly in itself.

That’s why much of the 88-page complaint focuses on Apple’s tight control over the App Store, the Watch’s inability to interact with Android devices, and, of course, the dreaded green bubble. Overall, the attorneys general who co-wrote the lawsuit say the evidence proves the company uses its market position to coerce third parties, often making life more difficult for Android developers.

The more interesting aspect of the lawsuit is the claim that such behavior caused Amazon, HTC, LG and Microsoft’s own attempts to compete in the space to fail.

“Because of these barriers to entry, many well-funded, well-established companies have attempted and failed to successfully enter relevant markets,” the lawsuit states. “Past failures include Amazon, which released a Fire phone in 2014 but was unable to sustain it profitably. business and exited the following year); Microsoft (discontinued its mobile business in 2017); HTC (exited the market by selling its smartphone business to Google in September 2017); and LG (exited the smartphone market in 2021). Today, Only Samsung and Google remain meaningful competitors in the U.S. high-performance smartphone market. Although Google controls the development of the Android operating system, the barriers are so high that Google lags far behind Apple and Samsung in third place .”

Apple is essentially scoffing at the idea that this market failure is anyone’s fault but the company behind it. The competitors consulted by the DOJ in putting together the case may have different views on how much of a direct role the iPhone maker played in its inability to gain meaningful market share (and each of the above examples is distinct from the other), but in At least, in the case of the Fire Phone, Amazon should be pointing the finger directly at itself.

As for why companies like Huawei have not challenged Apple on their own turf, the U.S. government should do some soul-searching.

The smartwatch example is interesting. Even Cupertino’s well-paid legal team would have a hard time proving that Apple Watch users aren’t plagued by iOS exclusivity. However, the company said technical limitations were to blame. Apple says it spent three years trying to create WatchOS/Android compatibility but ultimately gave up, citing security and privacy concerns.

Likewise, while Apple recently announced it would support RCS messaging on iPhones, the company insists that the ongoing stigmatizing green bubble is necessary to distinguish encryption and compatibility with certain messaging features.

The complaint cites internal emails from Apple executives suggesting that eliminating the green bubble would be bad for business.

Ultimately, Apple believes the lawsuit is intended to effectively turn iOS into Android. The company pointed to the 2008 Supreme Court case Pacific Bell Co. v. LinkLine Communications. The court ruled unanimously in Pac Bell’s favor, saying the telecom company did not violate antitrust rules and was able to decide which companies it chose to work with.

When the company makes its argument, the company may argue that it’s not Apple’s job to support competitors.

“If successful, [the lawsuit] It will hinder our ability to create the technology people expect from Apple — the intersection of hardware, software and services,” the company said in a statement released shortly after last week’s filing. It would also set a dangerous precedent, Empowering governments to take drastic measures when designing human technology. We believe this lawsuit is wrong on both facts and law, and we will vigorously defend it.

For more information on Apple’s antitrust lawsuit, check here:

Read more about DOJ’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple at TechCrunch

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