The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling, allowing a class action suit against Apple to proceed. The nonsense suit claims Apple holds an illegal monopoly over app sales for iOS. A lower court had ruled the class had no standing to sue, but the 9th Circuit’s ruling reverses the decision, allowing the case to proceed.

Apple lawsuit

The Case

The class suing Apple argues that Apple’s illegal monopoly on apps for iOS devices is anticompetitive. The argument goes that if users could just download apps from anywhere, prices would be lower.

“The obvious solution is to compel Apple to let people shop for applications wherever they want, which would open the market and help lower prices,” Mark C. Rifkin, an attorney with Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz representing the group of iPhone users, told Reuters in an interview. “The other alternative is for Apple to pay people damages for the higher than competitive prices they’ve had to pay historically because Apple has utilized its monopoly.”

My Response

To which I say, go *&^% yourself, Mr. Rifkin. App Store prices are rock bottom as it is, and the security benefits of Apple’s walled garden are obvious and of enormous value.

If Apple had a monopoly on smartphones, I would have substantially more empathy for the principles behind this case. Principles not involving attorney fees, that is. But Apple has a minority share of said market, making “monopoly” concerns a non-issue. Users wanting an open market for apps have plenty of choices, including the malware-infested cesspool that is Android.

Things to Note

Tuesday’s ruling is about standing—as noted by Reuters—and not the merits of the case. Apple’s attorneys have so far focused on standing—meaning the right of someone to sue—and not the case itself. I don’t believe closed systems and walled gardens like Apple’s Whole Widget model have been tested in court. If someone knows better than me, please chime in below.

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First an attack on the ethics of the situation: do users own their iPhones, or does Apple? If Apple owns them, Apple should be allowed to decide how users use them. If people own them, people should be allowed to decide how to use them. Apple makes a compelling case that they believe Apple owns (or should have ultimate control over) all iPhones. This same criticism applies to the Android platform controlled by Google. Apple created the first general computing platform with absolute censorship control over what can be installed. Google created the second. Now the legal attack: an iPhone… Read more »