US v. Apple: A Bite Sized Analysis


By Alex Tomack and Nathaniel Berry 

Eve, Isaac Newton, Steve Jobs – all pioneers of their respective lanes in the world of apples. Of these three, Steve Jobs stands undisputed as the most influential; however, his legacy may soon be tarnished, as recently the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc. for engaging in a pattern of behavior that equates to illegal monopoly maintenance. The lawsuit comes after years of legal battles between Apple and the DOJ which could warrant a whole article in their own right. With that being said, here’s a semi-brief summary.

  1. Collusion and price fixing in the e-book market (US v. Apple Inc., 2012) 
    1. This means the prices were broken and Apple needed to fix them. I don’t know why they got in trouble.
  2. Anti-competitive and anti-innovative behavior through their excessive 30% commission on in-app purchases (Pepper v. Apple Inc., 2019; Epic Games, Inc. v. Apple Inc., 2020)
    1. They’re only getting a meager 30%. If the average pizza has 8 slices, each slice representing 12.5% of the whole, then that would be only like a little more than two slices, which is what most people would probably eat anyway. What’s the big deal?
  3. Anticompetitive behavior via control over the iOS ecosystem;
    1. We at The Slant are climate activists; we believe all living creatures deserve autonomy, and controlling an ecosystem is bad for the animals.
  4. Exclusionary practices
    1. Two is a couple and three is a crowd – you should be kind to everyone and try to include everybody.
  5. Opaque and inconsistent app store review process.
    1. After recess in elementary school, our teachers would appoint a student to count you down from three at the water fountain. They would say, “1, 2, 3– SPLIT,” or “1, 2, that’s enough for you! This sounds like a decent way to control traffic, but the student would never count at a consistent rate– counting faster for people they don’t like, and slower for those they like. Nobody liked these students. Now imagine a company doing this. 

Should the DOJ find Apple guilty for maintaining a monopoly (in other words, being a really big apple I think), the company would be split into several, smaller companies which the court has referred to as “Apple Slices”– thus restoring competition in the market. They would need a really big knife to cut an apple that big. Experts at The Slant explained this would involve the cooperation of large knife companies: both large companies that sell normal sized knives and normal sized companies that sell large knives.

Antitrust experts have warned that this suit could be an uphill battle for the DOJ seeing as the scope of what constitutes a monopoly can be difficult to define. Nevertheless, the prosecution stands solid. In a public address, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland claimed:

“To an outsider, this is a classic David vs Goliath case. And while we all love an American Underdog story (classic 2021 film by the way) the public doesn’t know that this time, we’ve resurrected Johnny Appleseed, and we’re using him as sort of a mediator in this battle. He says he wants peace, but we don’t know if he means, like, a piece of Apple? We’re not sure he knows this is a company and not a fruit.”

Recently, the case has taken an unexpected turn as jurisdiction changed hands following the recusal of Judge Michael Farbiarz due to a conflict of interest. Political insiders at The Slant reported that for the past month, Judge Farbiarz had been receiving apples from the defense’s lawyers, evidenced by a large mound of apples accumulating on his desk. He would evade questions when pressed, though eventually revealed that he “loves apples”– swiftly prompting his removal. His replacement, US District Judge Julien Neals, has been spotted eating an assortment of pears, apples, and oranges– each with similar levels of enthusiasm, safely ensuring his neutrality. 

Although seemingly primed for success with their neutral fruit overlord, the case may still unfortunately fall flat at the finish line. Experts in the field seldom rank Apple as the most monopolistic, so proving illegality is sure to be an issue. Furthermore, while victory for the DOJ might mean coring Apple, the timeline on splitting up such a large company could take nearly a decade, as evidenced by the results of US vs. AT&T. That’ll take way too long – surely the apple would go rotten by then! 

  • April 30, 2024