Q&A – Is Apple's App Store A Monopoly?

Today’s entry - I still don't get how Apple is a monopoly. You can buy any one of a million Android phones. Example of Comcast and others are a monopoly as many people only have 1 choice for Hi-Speed internet. This is someone trying to do a hit on Apple.

Bottom Line: This note stems from the Supreme Court’s recent split ruling that Apple can be sued for potential anti-trust violations due to its app store practices. It’s one of those SCOTUS rulings that seemed to surprise those who monitor the court. It was notable because in a split decision Brett Kavanaugh broke with the court’s left-leaning bloc, finding Apple could be sued for its app store practices being anti-competitive. For Apple, this means the outcome could impact about 64% of the country and the percentage of adults who have at least one Apple device. 

Here’s the thing. It’s really more philosophical than it is complicated. The way Google handles its app store for Android devices is completely the opposite of how Apple handles its store. Google’s platform is open-source. This means that if you can develop an app that performs on devices, you can have it hosted in their store unless it’s found to have a problem. With Apple, developers have to create the app and then Apple gets to vet it and decide if it’ll be hosted in its app store. They retain complete control. In this respect, it is “monopoly” control over their app store, and it is different than Google, Microsoft, and others over the years. The reason I say its philosophical is because the Supreme Court found the app store to be an entity unto itself. I’d argue it’s simply a byproduct of the device(s) you choose to purchase. Apple’s far from a monopoly with any of their devices. 

So, what does this ruling potentially mean to you if you use an Apple product? Nothing yet and possibly nothing over the long run. If Apple were to lose future legal decisions, they potentially could be forced into an open-source type of model like Google. The reason Apple legitimizes their control over the app store is #1 for security and #2 quality control to lock out apps that don’t work effectively for users. With Apple’s apps, you don’t have to worry about loading an app with malware on your device. With Androids it’s a possibility. 

I think the Supreme Court got it wrong on this one too. No one forces you to buy an Apple product. I prefer the way Apple handles it.  

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Photo by: Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images



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