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Apple Faces Potential Federal Antitrust Lawsuit as DOJ Investigates

Tech giant Apple is reportedly on the verge of a federal antitrust lawsuit, according to a recent report by The New York Times. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is said to be in the "late stages" of an investigation into Apple's practices aimed at maintaining customer loyalty to its ecosystem.

The DOJ's inquiry is focused on several aspects of Apple's conduct, including how it allegedly restricts rivals from integrating with iMessage and provides preferential functionality to the Apple Watch when used with iPhones compared to other brands. Investigators are also examining how the company limits access to iPhone-specific payment services, preventing other financial providers from offering their solutions on the platform.

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While the investigation is not yet finalized, sources suggest that senior DOJ officials are currently reviewing the results. Apple has reportedly engaged in multiple meetings with the DOJ, including sessions as recent as December 2023, but a final meeting, where the company will have to defend its practices, is yet to take place.

The potential lawsuit could be filed by the DOJ as early as the first half of 2024, signaling increased scrutiny on the company's business practices. In February 2023, The Wall Street Journal had already reported on the DOJ's escalating investigation into Apple, indicating a growing focus on potential antitrust issues.

This is not the first time Apple has faced antitrust scrutiny. The company came under investigation when it repeatedly shut down the iMessage app for Android developed by Beeper in late 2023, raising concerns about its competitive practices.

The company's current situation reflects a broader trend of Big Tech companies dealing with antitrust concerns. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a substantial antitrust lawsuit against Amazon last year, and Google agreed to pay $700 million in December 2023 to settle antitrust charges. Meanwhile, Microsoft is still under scrutiny from the FTC over its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

As regulatory bodies intensify their scrutiny of major tech players, Apple's potential legal battle with the DOJ adds to the ongoing discussions surrounding competition and market practices within the technology industry. The outcome of this investigation will likely have far-reaching implications for the company and could reshape the landscape of the tech industry in the coming months.