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Apple’s Antitrust Paradox

 |  July 2, 2023

By Manuel Wörsdörfer, University of Maine

This paper builds on Khan’s work on Amazon’s antitrust paradox by transferring her normative framework to Apple Inc. It explores the company’s anti-competitive business practices and main antitrust concerns, as well as the currently proposed reform measures. The paper argues that one of the key antitrust issues with Apple is the company’s closed ecosystem combined with its role as a gatekeeper to and of the internet. The E.U.’s Digital Markets Act, which aims to open Apple’s ecosystem, primarily via data portability, interoperability, and multi-homing requirements, is a necessary step in the right direction. Yet, it is insufficient to prevent the lock-in effects of a ‘walled product garden’ and ensure complete device and platform neutrality. That is, additional steps must be taken to overcome Apple’s dual role as a platform operator and service provider and inhibit the company from engaging in anti-competitive business conduct. The paper adds to and enriches the existing academic literature in two ways: First, most papers examining Apple’s antitrust issues focus on the company’s App Store policies while leaving out other forms of anti-competitive business conduct. The following sections, however, analyze and discuss Apple’s multiple forms of anti-competitive behavior, not just those related to a particular market segment. Second, and more importantly, this paper approaches the ‘Apple and antitrust debate’ from an innovative business ethics and law (i.e., ordoliberal) perspective.

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