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Biden’s new war on your iPhone is a joke


High prices. A border crisis. Multiple wars raging in the world with U.S. involvement. With all of these pressing things worrying Americans, the Biden administration has decided that a top priority is … messing with your iPhone?

That’s right: President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice just launched an antitrust lawsuit targeting Apple for its allegedly harmful behavior and supposed “monopoly” on smartphones. While Apple has surely done some nefarious things over the years, this lawsuit is a joke.

First, it’s all based on the idea that Apple has a “monopoly” on the smartphone market. But it doesn’t, and it’s not particularly close.

The actual data show that about 60% of smartphones in the United States have an Apple operating system — meaning that 40% do not. On a global scale, Apple’s market share drops to about 28%. Android operating systems are a popular alternative that a large minority of Americans choose instead.

A monopoly is when one company has no real competitors and entirely or almost entirely controls a given market. So, for the Biden administration to label Apple a smartphone monopoly and base a drastic lawsuit upon that claim — the word “monopoly” appears in the lawsuit 87 times — is just straight-up false, and it undercuts the legitimacy of this entire endeavor.

So does the petty nature of some of the complaints highlighted in the suit.

The Department of Justice actually cites the fact that texts from non-iPhones appear to an iPhone user in green rather than blue as evidence that Apple is using its (imaginary) monopoly power to rig the system against its competitors. Yes, seriously.

“Apple affirmatively undermines the quality of rival smartphones,” the lawsuit reads. “For example, if an iPhone user messages a non-iPhone user in Apple Messages—the default messaging app on an iPhone—then the text appears to the iPhone user as a green bubble and incorporates limited functionality. Many non-iPhone users also experience social stigma, exclusion, and blame for ‘breaking’ chats where other participants own iPhones.”

The coloring of text message bubbles is hardly the kind of concern that should prompt such a drastic federal intervention in the tech sector. And there’s actually a valid reason for this distinction: “Blue” text messages from iPhone to iPhone are encrypted, whereas SMS messages are not and are more vulnerable to hacking.

Meanwhile, consumers aren’t up in arms over Apple — they love it. According to YouGov, nearly 70% of Americans view Apple favorably, and just 15% view the company negatively. Antitrust is only ever supposed to be invoked by the federal government when consumers are getting screwed over badly, but that isn’t what’s happening here.

“This lawsuit wasn’t spurred by consumer or voter complaints,” Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich writes. “Instead, companies like Tile, Beeper, Spotify, Match Group (a former client of DOJ Antitrust Chief Jonathan Kanter), banks, and payment apps have all spent months pushing the DOJ to bring this lawsuit. They would be the largest beneficiaries of the lawsuit.”

That’s right: This smells like crony capitalism.

“Consumers should not have to pay higher prices because companies violate the antitrust laws,” Attorney General Merrick Garland insists.

But iPhones have radically improved their technology in recent years while inflation-adjusted prices have barely budged. In 2016, the inflation-adjusted price of an iPhone 7 was $824 in today’s dollars. In 2023, the iPhone 15 started at $799.

So, where’s this monopolistic consumer rip-off happening, exactly?

None of this is to say Apple is a perfect company or has never engaged in any anticompetitive practices. But if there’s a legitimate and credible case to be made against Apple, what the Biden administration just put out simply isn’t it.

Continue Reading at The Washington Examiner.

Washington Examiner

Political news and commentary about Congress, the president and the federal government from the Washington Examiner.

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