Helena Lyng Blak
9 weeks ago

Apple stock plunges amid legal troubles

Apple faces legal scrutiny from both the US and the EU.
Milan, Italy - July 2018: Apple flagship store in piazza Liberty Milan
MikeDotta / Shutterstock.com

On Thursday, Apple Inc. slumped by 4.09% at closing, which, according to Bloomberg, equates to a roughly $113 billion decrease in market value, bringing the company’s year-to-date decrease to 7.69% as of Thursday.

Comparatively, most of Apple's major competitors and peers in the tech industry have rallied throughout the first months of 2024. Microsoft, for one, has seen its stocks increase by 15.77%, and Google by 6.58%.

Apple, to put it plainly, is falling behind and is concurrently facing legal troubles from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

US antitrust case

Also on Thursday, as Apple's shares slipped, the US Justice Department (DoJ) alongside 16 state and district attorney generals sued Apple.

In a press release from the DoJ, the department explains it sued the iPhone maker because it allegedly “maintains a monopoly over smartphones by selectively imposing contractual restrictions on, and withholding critical access points from, developers.”

The DoJ further argues that Apple leverages its monopolistic position to hinder the promotion of interoperability, making users excessively dependent on the iPhone. This strategy enables Apple to extract funds from consumers and developers, while also blocking the reduction of costs for these groups and others.

“For years, Apple responded to competitive threats by imposing a series of ‘Whac-A-Mole’ contractual rules and restrictions that have allowed Apple to extract higher prices from consumers, impose higher fees on developers and creators, and to throttle competitive alternatives from rival technologies,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

EU investigation

Across the pond, Apple might also be facing legal challenges soon. The tech giant has already been slapped with a €1.84 billion (around $2 billion in US dollars) fine by the European Commission for violating antitrust legislation earlier this month but is now facing further investigations.

According to Bloomberg, the European Union is planning to launch investigations into Apple as well as Google, and possibly Meta, under the union’s Digital Markets Act.

The act, which aims to make the tech industry fairer and foster more competition, went into effect in 2023, and companies had until March 6, 2024, to comply with its provisions.

Loser in the AI race?

But Apple is not the only company among its peers to face legal issues. Alphabet’s Google, too, has been given hefty European fines and faced a US antitrust case.

One might speculate that Apple’s issues are being exacerbated by its failure to successfully jump on the generative AI wagon. But that may be changing soon.

Although recent reports have stated that Apple was in talks with Google to license its Gemini suite of AI services for upcoming iPhone software, there are indications that the tech giant is throwing its own AI-generated hat into the ring.

According to Wired, Apple has "quietly" released a research paper describing an AI model called MM1, suggesting Apple may be making investments into its own generative AI models, products, and services.

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