Apple hit with US antitrust lawsuit over alleged smartphone monopoly

A new US Justice Department lawsuit has alleged Apple maintains an unlawful monopoly in the smartphone industry.
apple iphone 15 pro mobile lawsuit

The US Justice Department has announced a major antitrust lawsuit against Apple, alleging it purposefully maintains an illegal smartphone monopoly by preventing competitors from making an impact on the market.

The new lawsuit alleges Apple has used its power to dampen competition in five key areas: cloud streaming, “super apps”, messaging, smartwatches, and digital wallets. It’s alleged that across these key areas, Apple has a stranglehold, and has actively prevented third parties from creating their own rival features.

Of significant relevance to gaming audiences is the cloud gaming portion of the antitrust lawsuit. According to the filing, the US Justice Department has taken issue with Apple not allowing cloud gaming on older Apple devices, instead allegedly forcing consumers to purchase new, more expensive hardware to play the latest mobile games.

Read: Google has illegal app store monopoly, Epic Games lawsuit finds

“For years, Apple blocked cloud gaming apps that would have given users access to desirable apps and content without needing to pay for expensive Apple hardware because this would threaten its monopoly power,” the lawsuit alleges.

“Cloud gaming apps deliver rich gaming experiences on smartphones without the need for users to purchase powerful, expensive hardware. As a result, users with access to cloud streamed games may be more willing to switch from an iPhone to a smartphone with less expensive hardware because both smartphones can run desirable games equally well.”

Notably, Apple announced in January 2024 that it would allow game streaming apps on the iOS App Store. While this appears to have been taken into consideration, the Justice Department still alleges Apple has historically wielded its influence to ensure little competition for consumers, and this must be addressed.

For its part, Apple has denied the allegations in the antitrust lawsuit, and has promised to defend itself. There’s likely much more to come, so stay tuned for further developments.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.