The DOJ’s Antitrust Case Against Apple is an Attack on Consumer Preference

by | Mar 28, 2024 | Opinion

The war between the US federal government and Big Tech continues. The next chapter pits the Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) under Merrick Garland against Apple, wherein the DOJ has accused America’s most innovative consumer brand of sweeping antitrust violations. This allegation of anticompetitive conduct deserves intense scrutiny. Apple is a wildly successful consumer tech brand that inspires consumer loyalty like no other tech. So what’s the problem?

At the heart of the DOJ’s lawsuit is the claim that Apple has stifled competition by building barriers that prevent competitors from both entering the smartphone market and functioning on Apple’s platform. 

The Apple Watch is part of the DOJ’s case. They’ve argued that Apple doesn’t accommodate smartwatches from other providers to sync to iPhones and Macbooks. This is a strange line of attack. 

As I wrote in The Hill weeks before the case was unveiled:

“Imagine the classroom slacker making the case to the teacher that the straight-A student in the front of the class is being anti-competitive by not sharing their lecture notes with them. It’s one thing to maliciously penalize or seek to inconvenience consumers for having a mixed assortment of technology from Apple, LG, Samsung, Nokia and Google. It’s another thing entirely for the government to say that Apple has to design its products for Samsung to piggyback on and then offer to their loyal customers as a perk of not doing business with Apple. Investigators are spending taxpayer dollars to find out why the Apple Watch works more smoothly with the iPhone than with rival brands.”

It it not anticompetitive to not build products with your competitors in mind. It may limit the appeal of your product, your walled garden where each Apple device syncs nicely with another. That’s why I’ve said “Apple is a lifestyle brand.” This approach has made Apple very popular with consumers. 

One of the other key grievances outlined in the lawsuit is Apple’s control over its App Store, which critics argue gives the company an unfair advantage over rivals. However, what these critics fail to acknowledge is that Apple’s stringent App Store guidelines are designed to uphold the highest standards of quality and security for users.

An Apple user can feel comfortable and confident knowing that there is not malware and illicit apps on the App Store. It is more tightly controlled. That is to consumers benefits, though it may frustrate app developers, game makers and tech competitors. 

Apple’s ecosystem is not a nefarious scheme to lock users into its products but rather a testament to the company’s unwavering commitment to user privacy and data security. And make no mistake, the data security and privacy component of Apple’s brand has put them in an adversarial position with the Department of Justice and Homeland Security before. Are we supposed to believe this factor is not part of the DOJ’s motivation? 

Unlike other tech giants that have come under fire for their lax approach to privacy, Apple has consistently prioritized the protection of user data, even if it means sacrificing some degree of interoperability with third-party devices and services. This principled stance should be commended, not condemned, particularly in an era marked by rampant data breaches and privacy violations. Apple does good by consumers. 

In responding to the lawsuit, Apple pointed out that the DOJ’s actions threaten to undermine the company principles that have made its products synonymous with quality and innovation. At the Consumer Choice Center, we are inclined to agree. Consumers have ample market power to use other devices and mix and match as they please. There is more to this DOJ attack on Apple than meets the eye, and you can bet it has little to do with consumer welfare.

Stephen Kent is the Media Director for the Consumer Choice Center, an independent, non-partisan consumer advocacy group which championing the benefits of freedom of choice, innovation, and abundance in everyday life.

NEXT: Senator Rand Paul Endorses ‘Liberty Champion’ Dr. Rick Becker

AMP America

Get Amp’d in your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter to get videos, articles, and more sent right to your inbox daily. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This