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A special episode of The Vergecast this week features an interview with Mark Rifkin, a lawyer involved in a class action suit against Apple. Originally filed in 2011, Apple vs. Pepper argues that the iOS App Store is an unlawful monopoly; whereas Android (for example) offers alternative app stores and direct installs from developers, Apple gives you exactly two choices: deal with the App Store or have zero third-party apps on your phone. Because Apple takes a 30% commission on all App Store purchases, the plaintiffs argue that this fee is passed on to users, who again have nowhere else to go.

The case has been making its way through the legal system for the past eight years. First, a lower court sided with Apple; then an appeals court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. This week the Supreme Court upheld the prior ruling against Apple, citing the precedent of Illinois Brick, a case where the state of Illinois sued a brick company for price-fixing. Without going into too much detail, that case was about who in the supply chain was the guilty party.

Here's what Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh says about Apple:

iPhone owners are not consumers at the bottom of a vertical distribution chain who are attempting to sue manufacturers at the top of the chain. There is no intermediary in the distribution chain between Apple and the consumer. The iPhone owners purchase apps directly from the retailer Apple, who is the alleged antitrust violator. The iPhone owners pay the alleged overcharge directly to Apple.
In a statement to The Verge Apple asserts that its App Store "is not a monopoly by any metric", and will likely cite the very existence of Android as proof. But, according to Rifkin:

“The fact that they have a [less than] 50 percent market share of smartphones doesn’t mean they don’t have a 100 percent share of the distribution of iPhone apps—which they absolutely do.”
Have a listen to the 40-minute episode at the link immediately below.

Source: The Verge