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Justice Department antitrust lawsuit complains that iPhone is cool, lawyer says

One element of the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit against Apple concerns iMessage and Apple's decision to keep the app exclusive to the iPhone. But he goes further than simply arguing that it is anti-competitive, and criticizes the use of green chats for Android users as creating a “social stigma”.

A lawyer commenting on this claim says it effectively amounts to the Department of Justice complaining that people think iPhones are cooler than Android phones…

iMessage element in DOJ antitrust lawsuit

Last week we noted that the antitrust lawsuit against Apple mixes things up.

This is the very definition of the spray-and-pray approach: throw as many things into the mix as possible and hope that some of them stick. The Justice Department has reviewed every antitrust complaint ever filed against Apple, as well as one that was never filed, and turned them into formal charges against the company.

Although Apple is somewhat While toying with the idea of ​​making iMessage available on Android, the company ultimately abandoned it in order to tighten iPhone blocking.

In a previous antitrust lawsuit, an email was uncovered in which an Apple employee stated that maintaining iMessage exclusivity on the iPhone “tantamounts to serious tie-in,” and Phil Schiller alluded to it, saying it shows why “bringing iMessage to Android will hurt us more than help us.” ” Craig Federighi said its availability on Android will “remove the barrier for iPhone families giving their children Android phones.”

But Wired notes that the lawsuit isn't just about commercial politics here—it goes on to address the feeling of “social stigma” and “isolation” some Android users experience when their messages in group chats appear in green bubbles instead of blue, and “break” chat, forcing you to switch to SMS.

“Many non-iPhone users also face social stigma, isolation and accusations that they are “breaking” » chats in which other participants are using an iPhone. “,” the suit says. It goes on to note that this is especially important for certain populations, such as teenagers, who, as The Wall Street Journal reported two years ago, “fear the ostracism” associated with owning an Android phone.

Best comment by Carol Danvers

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When the Justice Department sued to break up AT&T in 1984, they said it would open the telecommunications market to intense competition that would benefit the consumer. The settlement created false competition by forcing AT&T to allow competitors to use its infrastructure to provide competing services. AT&T was forced to provide its network services to competitors at deep discounts so that they could undercut AT&T's own prices. The argument for this was that the infrastructure was built by consumers, who paid AT&T as a protected monopoly.

At first, dozens of companies began selling telephone and long distance service. Guess what happened? One by one, these companies failed and left the market, leaving only AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Fast forward to today: AT&T has reinvented itself.

When I bought my first Apple II, I had dozens of PC hardware manufacturers to choose from. And again, one after another, they failed and left the market. The Justice Department's claim that Apple's alleged monopoly led to the failure of Microsoft and Meta's cell phone efforts is beyond ridiculous.

And the “social stigma” argument goes beyond laughter and approaches delirium. .

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While this phenomenon may be real, to claim that this is an antitrust problem seems like a rather dramatic stretch. Indeed, one lawyer said that what the Justice Department is essentially complaining about is that people find iPhones cool but Android phones don't.

“What's really really excludes Apple here? It’s almost like a cool factor when a company successfully creates a network effect for itself, and I’ve never seen that integrated into antitrust before,” says Paul Swanson, litigation partner at Holland & Hart LLP is a Denver, Colorado-based firm specializing in technology and antitrust law. “This will be an interesting antitrust case.”

Apple itself claims that the lawsuit is an attempt to turn the iPhone into an Android device.

Although the issue of iMessage exclusivity is now relevant in the United States , it has escaped the attention of competition authorities in Europe because the app is much less popular there and most iPhone owners prefer WhatsApp.

Photo by Yuheng Ouyang on Unsplash

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