Apple App store antitrust case is finally getting the attention it deserves with the U.S. Supreme Court (SC) ruling 5-4 against the tech giant on May 20 (Monday).
The decision will now allow a group of iPhone users to sue Apple for allegedly monopolizing the App store.
Apple App store antitrust case 2011
A group in 2011 accused the iPhone maker of passing on an unfair cost to users with its 30% cut in the App store. iPhone users, they said, are forced to purchase costly apps on their device as they have no other options anyway. Apple developers, on the other hand, are encouraged to increase their prices.
iPhone users, unlike Android, can only purchase apps from the App Store. The tech giant explained that it is their way to control quality and avoid apps posing security threats.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh maintained that consumers have the right to hold businesses to account when
“retailers engage in unlawful anticompetitive conduct that harms consumers.”
“That is why we have antitrust law,”
SC court ruling
The SC clarified that the decision does not accuse the tech giant of breaching antitrust law. It simply holds that Apple App Store buyers have the right to sue the company for allegedly monopolistic behaviour.
Apple argued that iPhone users cannot sue them as they are an intermediary firm. Yet the SC held that their users are ‘direct purchasers’ and as such have the right to sue the company under a precedent known as Illinois Brick.
Gene Kimmelman, a former Justice Department antitrust official and president of the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, said that the SC’s decision might largely impact other tech firms operating in seemingly walled-off internet storefronts.
“It definitely should make tech companies wonder how the antitrust laws will be applied going forward in an online platform environment,” he said.
Apple’s stock dropped 5.3% on the news about the Apple App store antitrust case.
Sources: The Verge, TechCrunch