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Apple facing major antitrust lawsuit from US government

Apple is facing another antitrust lawsuit – this time from the US government.

Earlier today, the US Department of Justice announced it is suing Apple for monopolising the smartphone market. The lawsuit has been filed by the Department of Justice, 15 other state and district attorneys general, and Washington DC, in the District Court of New Jersey.

In the lawsuit, the Department of Justice alleges Apple engages in an “anticompetitive course of conduct”, using tactics such as making it difficult for consumers to switch to other smartphone platforms, maintaining a closed-off system which is incompatible with apps and peripherals from other companies, and blocking third-party digital wallets. Of most relevant to video games, perhaps, is the claim Apple has blocked the development of cloud-streaming game apps.

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The lawsuit (uploaded to the DOJ’s website) seeks to prevent Apple from anti-competitive practices including “control of app distribution to undermine cross-platform technologies”, “using private APIs to undermine cross-platform technologies” and using contracts with “developers, accessory makers, consumers, or others to obtain, maintain, extend, or entrench a monopoly”.

“We allege that Apple has consolidated its monopoly power not by making its own products better, but by making other products worse,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a press conference held by the DOJ, where he accused Apple of “unlawful, exclusionary behaviour” to maintain its monopoly. “If left unchallenged, Apple will only continue to strengthen its smartphone monopoly,” Garland added.

In a statement sent to the BBC, Apple denied the allegations. “This lawsuit threatens who we are and the principles that set Apple products apart in fiercely competitive markets,” the company said. “We believe this lawsuit is wrong on the facts and the law, and we will vigorously defend against it.”

BBC sources have stated the EU’s European Commission is expected to announce a similar investigation into Apple, Meta, and Google.

This isn’t the first time the US government has criticised Apple for monopolistic behaviour. In 2020, a report from the House of Representatives called out Apple’s 30 percent App Store cut.

If the European Commission also conducts investigations into Apple for anti-competitive behaviour, this will be the second time in less than a month. The spat between Epic Games and Apple rose to new tensions at the beginning of the month, when Apple banned Epic’s developer account and called the developer “verifiably untrustworthy”. After the EU announced it was stepping in to investigate the move, Apple swiftly reversed the ban.

Yesterday at Epic’s State of Unreal 2024, the company once again discussed its plans to bring the Epic Games Store to iOS and Android in app form. Amy Hennig’s Captain America and Black Panther game, Marvel 1943: Rise of Hydra, also made its debut during the show, showcasing the impressive MetaHuman Creator in Unreal Engine 5.

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