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Andrew Haglund

US vs. Apple

My initial reaction to hearing about the United States versus Apple:

I’d boil down the DoJ lawsuit as “Apple works hard to ensure their product has good and people like it” and apparently that is illegal? I totally agree with the App Store complaint. These other things are… yeesh.

Later I read Manton Reece’s thoughts, which more or less aligns with mine. The App Store is an absolute cluster of corrosive incentives for Apple which limits hurts businesses1 and stifles innovation.

Jason Snell has a great piece at Six Colors. In a nutshell:

Lock-in will be on trial. Many of the DoJ arguments come down to this: Every feature that Apple builds that makes it harder to switch to an Android phone is fundamentally anticompetitive. … the DoJ envisions a competitive smartphone market … in which there’s as little friction as possible when jumping between platforms.

As he mentions, the CarPlay and Apple TV+ arguments are asinine. This part, however, got me worried about what precedent this case could set:

Is it illegal for Apple to use its power to improve the user experience? What about when it cuts itself in for some sweet Services revenue along the way?

I design for a big corporation so I’m part of the Big Scary Tech this bill is targeting (therefore my perspective is biased). As I read more on the topic, my mind keeps wandering back to this doomsday of question: is Design — the art of making things with value, with quality, with utility — ultimately under attack?

While I disagree with some ideas in this lawsuit, I’m fascinated to see what happens.

Apple could stand to loosen up a bit, without losing much. Let apps run outside the App Store. Let people use the smartwatch of their choice. Let users use their godawful bank as an alternative wallet to Apple Pay. What we’ll all learn together is that the total package, the design of this ecosystem, is what customers pay for and want.

In other words: if Apple has to compete, I’m confident they’ll win.

  1. Except Apple, naturally. ↩︎