Justice Department files antitrust suit against Apple

The Justice Department filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Apple (AAPL), alleging that the tech giant illegally maintains its dominance over its iPhone ecosystem by boxing out competing services from other companies.

Apple said it would fight the lawsuit, which it said “threatens who we are and the principles that set Apple products apart in fiercely competitive markets. If successful, it would hinder our ability to create the kind of technology people expect from Apple.”

A victory for the US in this case “would also set a dangerous precedent, empowering government to take a heavy hand in designing people’s technology,” Apple added in its statement.

Apple’s stock was down roughly 3% following news of the lawsuit, which the Justice Department filed with 16 state attorneys general.

The filing sets up yet another confrontation between the US government and a Silicon Valley icon as the Biden administration tries to rein in Big Tech’s power.

The Department of Justice is suing Google (GOOG, GOOGL) over antitrust allegations, while the Federal Trade Commission is suing Amazon (AMZN) and Facebook (META) alleging they also violate antitrust laws.

Apple CEO Tim Cook. REUTERS/Loren Elliott (REUTERS / Reuters)

The new DOJ lawsuit filed Thursday poses a major new threat to Apple’s various revenue streams.

Apple generates the bulk of its cash through the sale of its wildly popular iPhone, which accounted for $200.6 billion of the company’s $383.3 billion in total revenue in 2023. But Apple’s services and hardware that tie into the iPhone are also incredibly lucrative.

The company’s wearables, home, and accessories business, which includes its Apple Watch and AirPods sales, generated $39.8 billion last year, while its growing services business, which includes subscriptions for things like Apple Music+ and App Store sales, brought in $85.2 billion.

The DOJ’s suit comes just weeks after the European Commission (EC) fined Apple $2 billion for allegedly breaking competition laws in the bloc. The EC alleged the company illegally wielded its dominance to the detriment of its rivals in the market for the distribution of music streaming apps.

The Justice Department suit is just the latest headache for Apple, which is off to a rough start to 2024.

Shares of Apple are down 7% year-to-date, as the company struggles with slowing iPhone sales in China, its third-largest market. Apple also lost its title of the world’s most valuable company to rival Microsoft (MSFT).

Alexis Keenan is a legal reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow Alexis on Twitter @alexiskweed.

Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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