So far, the most significant antitrust cases in technology have been about Facebook and Google, but Apple may soon join them. Politico reports that the Department of Justice is starting an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the company "abused its market power to hurt smaller tech companies like app developers and competing hardware makers."
It would be the first time a US federal agency brought a case like this against Apple. However, European antitrust regulators have brought similar cases against the company over its App Store fees and how it handles tap-to-pay technology on the iPhone. The company has also won several civil lawsuits against it from other companies. The biggest of these was Epic Games' challenge to the App Store, which ended in a frustrating tie for antitrust advocates.
Politico clarifies that the Justice Department has not yet decided what to do about Apple. Officials may still decide that the case is not important enough to pursue. Even if the Justice Department keeps working on the case, it might not be filed in court for years. But the fact that the case is being written up shows that it is a severe and ongoing effort. This gives Apple a lot to worry about in the future.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
The news comes at a time when the government is taking on the power of big tech companies in several different ways, with mixed results. In July, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to stop Meta from buying the famous VR game studio Within. A court will have to decide if the commission can stop the merger.
In 2020, the Department of Justice charged Google with antitrust violations for monopolizing search and display ad businesses. The Wall Street Journal said that Google offered to turn its ad-auction businesses into a separate company to settle the case, but it is still unclear where the talks stand.