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U.S. Moves Closer to Filing Sweeping Antitrust Case Against Apple

Apple is facing the increased regulatory pressure as its business slows. Last year, the company reported its annual revenue fell 2.8 percent, to $383 billion, its first decline in a fiscal year since 2019, as sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs slowed. Still, the company sold more than 200 million iPhones and accounted for nearly three-quarters of the smartphones sold worldwide that were priced above $600, analysts estimate.

When the Justice Department started its tech investigations in 2019, it prioritized its antitrust review of Google over Apple because it lacked the financial resources and personnel to fully evaluate both companies, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. That changed in 2022 after the department’s budget increased.

The investigation has encompassed a wider span of Apple’s business interests than previously reported, said six people with knowledge of the meetings. That includes how Apple has blocked cloud gaming apps, which let users stream a multitude of titles to their phones, from being offered in its App Store.

Investigators spoke with executives at Tile, the Bluetooth tracking service, about Apple’s competing AirTag product and the company’s restrictions to outside parties on access to the iPhone’s location services. Executives at Beeper, a start-up that made iMessage available on Android phones, spoke with investigators about how Apple blocked it from making it possible to offer messaging across competing smartphone operating systems. Investigators also had conversations with banks and payment apps about how Apple prevents them from accessing the tap-to-pay function on iPhones.

Tile and Beeper declined to comment for this article.

They have also looked at how the Apple Watch works better alongside the iPhone than other competing smartwatches. Users of Garmin devices have complained in Apple’s support forums about being unable to use their watches to reply to certain text messages from their iPhones or tweak the notifications they receive from the iPhone that they have connected to their watch.


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