Home Money The Apple Antitrust Case and the ‘Stigma’ of the Green Bubble

The Apple Antitrust Case and the ‘Stigma’ of the Green Bubble

by Elijah
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The Apple Antitrust Case and the ‘Stigma’ of the Green Bubble

Legal experts say this social stigma argument needs much stronger support to hold up in court because it doesn’t fit traditional definitions of antitrust. “What is Apple actually excluding here? It’s almost a cool factor when a company successfully creates a network effect for itself, and I’ve never seen that integrated into an antitrust claim before,” said Paul Swanson, a litigation partner at Holland & Hart LLP in Denver, Colorado, who focuses on technology and antitrust. “This will be an interesting case for antitrust law.”

Regardless, the DOJ’s complaint builds a powerful message from the cacophony of consumer voices that have expressed frustrations over iMessage’s lack of interoperability in recent years. And it’s part of a broader, democratizing theme introduced by Jonathan Kanter, the assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, says Kovacic, who previously chaired the Federal Trade Commission. “Kanter basically said, ‘We’re trying to make this justice system accessible to ordinary people and take it away from the technicians,’” ​​Kovacic says. “The storytelling is exaggerated in some ways, but I feel like a lot of work went into this archiving.”

Apple has denied the DOJ’s allegations. In an earlier statement to WIRED, Apple spokesman Fred Sainz said the lawsuit “threatens who we are and the principles that differentiate Apple products in fiercely competitive markets” and added that the products work “seamlessly” together and “the protect people’s privacy and security. .”

Cultural arguments about the harmful effects of the iPhone’s stickiness will resonate with many consumers, even if they are ultimately legally indefensible. Blue bubble versus green bubble messages have become a much more mainstream debate that transcends the shaky technical underpinnings of the iMessage protocol. Apple has also consistently boasted about iPhone and iMessage’s tight security, while seemingly denying third-party apps (like Beeper) the ability to provide a similar level of security between iPhones and Android phones.

Apple has suggested that iMessage’s design is not anti-competitive, as iPhone users can install and use any third-party messaging app as long as it is available on the App Store. Apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Signal can all be installed on iPhones and give messages from users on Android or iPhone equal treatment.

The DOJ is addressing that as well, saying these other apps first require consent from consumers on both sides of a conversation because they are closed systems themselves. And the case points out that Apple hasn’t given app developers any technical way to access the iPhone messaging APIs that would enable SMS-like, cross-platform “text-to-anyone” features of those apps.

Swanson said he still believes Apple has been careful in taking the necessary steps to legally preserve consumer choice, which is one of the fundamental tenets of U.S. antitrust law. “You probably can’t send advanced messaging on a T9 phone these days,” he says, referring to the predictive text system that dominated before the iPhone popularized touchscreens. “But there are plenty of other options on the market that won’t rob you of a network effect.”

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