Apple Should Not Be Exempt From the Antitrust Tomahawk


Apple Should Not Be Exempt From the Antitrust Tomahawk

April 1, 2024

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This piece originally appeared in the American Conservative.

With last week’s lawsuit, the Department of Justice has joined the chorus of voices that have risen in opposition to Apple’s poor treatment of users and developers. In its complaint, the DOJ accuses Apple of neutralizing “competitive threats by imposing a series of shapeshifting rules and restrictions in its App Store guidelines and developer agreements that [allow it] to extract higher fees, thwart innovation, offer a less secure or degraded user experience, and throttle competitive alternatives.”

In its response to the lawsuit, Apple fell back on the same argument it has used for more than a decade: that user privacy and security require the company to have total control over its ecosystem. This argument is unfounded. As policymakers, courts, and individual Apple users alike strive to counteract Big Tech’s anti-competitive tendencies, they should recognize that protecting user privacy and security is much more feasible than many corporations claim, and that openness, privacy, and security are not incompatible values.

All of the major tech companies have become restrictionist institutions. But Apple is the progenitor of the ecosystem lock-in business model. In the 1980s and 1990s, as Microsoft and Apple were competing for the burgeoning market for personal computers and operating systems (OS), Apple built a heavily centralized and controlled ecosystem. Microsoft went in the opposite direction and bet on openness, allowing third parties to easily build and deploy applications on their Windows OS.

Continue reading in the American Conservative.

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