Google and Apple Face Trouble With US Antitrust Laws

Apple and Google are facing antitrust lawsuits from the U.S. Department of Justice that are similar in many ways to the landmark 1998 case that broke down Microsoft before the company roared back years later.

The similarities between that 1998 case and what’s going on today could forecast what might happen if federal regulators ultimately prove successful in their efforts to crack down on the practices that the two tech giants are participating in today.

Some federal lawyers have claimed that Apple and Google might not have ever been able to become as powerful as they are today had Microsoft not been reined in back in 1998.

Closing arguments in the case against Google that is taking place in Washington, D.C., are set for this week, which will end a trial that started in September of 2023. Regulators are asserting there that Google turned its search engine business into a monopoly that’s illegal, stifling both innovation and competition in the process.

Meanwhile, the case against Apple was just filed about a month ago and could take many years for a resolution to be landed upon.

When the case against Google was first filed back in October of 2020, federal regulators compared a lucrative deal the company struck with Apple to put its search engine into the Safari web browser that’s found on Mac computers and mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad to the tactics that Microsoft used with its computer software to lock out competition.

In the Apple antitrust lawsuit, the DOJ drew parallels to what co-founder Steve Jobs said back in 1998 against Microsoft — that they used “dirty tactics,” as he urged federal regulators to force the software provider “to play fair.”

Regulators did just that, and in doing so, paved the way for companies such as Google to create a search engine that ultimately became the main gateway to the internet.

The Microsoft case also ultimately allowed Apple to extend the reach of the iTunes store that made the iPod very popular and served as the building blocks for the iPhone.

In the case against Apple, the DOJ is claiming that the iPhone has become an illegal monopoly. Federal lawyers in that case have said that the case against Microsoft “created new opportunities for innovation in areas that would become critical to the success of Apple’s consumer devices and the company itself.”

It took years for Microsoft to bounce back after it lost the antitrust suit in 1998. Google dominated the search engine, and the iPhone took over many other aspects of tech.

But, then the company bounced back once Satya Nadella took over as CEO of the company in 2014. Earlier this year, the value of Microsoft reached $3 trillion, which allowed it to surpass Apple as the most valuable company in the world.

Antitrust experts point to this as proof that the system is working, and that reining in both Google and Apple now would be best not just for competition and innovation, but ultimately for those two companies as well.