The importance of software offerings in Apple’s iPhone and iOS strategy has grown over time. In 2007, the iPhone had 17 pre-installed apps. Today, there are 38. And since the App Store launched in 2008, Apple has never let consumers set a third-party app as a default option for certain functions—unlike on Android or Windows, where third-party defaults are permitted.
For example, Google allows Android users to pick Firefox as their go-to browser relatively easily. Apple does not do this.
As Bloomberg noted, based on discussions with antitrust lawyers, “This sounds like Microsoft in the 90s. Back then, the U.S. sued Microsoft Corp. for trying to shut out other web browsers by bundling Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system and making it hard to install replacements.”
For the apps Apple does permit on the iOS App Store, Apple still forecloses fair competition, by manipulating what that App Store shows consumers when a consumer searches for an iOS app. Apple suppresses search results for competing products, promotes Apple’s own applications at the expense of fair competition, and makes it difficult for users to find and install quality replacements for Apple’s default apps.
Apple has used its exclusive control over the iOS App Store to promote its own default software applications, including its own Mail software for iOS, and to protect those software applications from fair competition with other iOS applications, including Plaintiff’s BlueMail software. Apple has done so by, inter alia, suppressing discovery of its highest-quality competing apps and through a variety of other means.