Four more US states pile on Apple as DoJ turns up antitrust heat

Growing coalition joins federal fray, accusing iGiant of playing monopoly

Four more US states have jumped on the Department of Justice's (DoJ) antitrust lawsuit against Apple.

The addition of Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Washington brings the total count of US states (plus Washington DC) in the suit to 20, the DoJ said. The lawsuit alleges Apple violated part of the Sherman Antitrust Act and local laws in New Jersey and Wisconsin by operating the Apple hardware-software ecosystem as a "monopoly."

"We welcome the States of Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada and Washington, who join our existing coalition to restore competition in the smartphone markets that Apple has monopolized," said Jonathan Kanter, an assistant attorney general at the DoJ. "We look forward to litigating this important case alongside our state partners to deliver the benefits of competition to consumers, app developers, accessory makers, and the American public."

The case largely rests on the lack of compatibility and functionality between Apple's official solutions and those made by third parties, specifically pointing out things like the lack of iMessage on non-Apple smartphones, which attorney general Merrick Garland says harms Apple users.

The DoJ has also complained about Apple blocking so-called "super apps" that make it easier to switch to different mobile devices, cloud-based game streaming services, and tap-to-pay functionality for third-party wallet apps.

The DoJ has compared its suit against Cupertino, filed in March, to the legendary 2001 antitrust case against Microsoft, which was found guilty under the very same Sherman Antitrust Act that Apple is accused of violating.

Apple is facing international scrutiny concerning its potentially monopolistic practices. In the European Union, Apple was fined nearly $2 billion for taking its cut on in-app purchases, and could face further fines if the EU decides it has violated the laws of the newly instituted Digital Markets Act (DMA).

According to Spotify, Apple definitely broke those rules as the company refused to update the music app to say that Apple users could sign up via Spotify's own website, a notification that didn't even come with a hyperlink.

In April, the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) said a nearly $1 billion lawsuit against the iPhone maker that similarly complained about App Store fees could go ahead, saying that the complaint had a realistic chance of success at trial. ®

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