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DoJ's Apple App Store probe is 'firing on all cylinders'

The Department of Justice antitrust probe into Apple's App Store rules is still rolling on, with the examination into the digital storefront's dominance apparently in full flow and potentially getting closer to actually bringing a case against the iPhone maker.

The Justice Department has run a probe into Apple's App Store practices since 2020, examining behavior that developers said was anticompetitive. Years later, the probe is still underway, with the DoJ facing a potential time crunch to make something of it all.

Jonathan Kanter, DoJ antitrust unit chief since November 2021, claimed to the Financial Times that the App Store policies probe is now "firing on all cylinders." Though Kanter has previously indicated he wants to bring cases against major US companies like Apple, the DoJ didn't explicitly comment on the probe's findings thus far.

The probe is somewhat at risk of becoming stale for the DoJ, as there is a time pressure on the horizon in the form of a presidential election. With the possibility of a change of occupancy in the White House in January 2025, that gives the DoJ just a year to actually bring action against Apple, if it intends to do so.

In February 2023, the DoJ was drafting a potential antitrust complaint against Apple, though despite the draft attempt, information about the probe's progress largely dried up until January's article.

In December, the DoJ reportedly met with Beeper's CEO amid its iMessage access fight, potentially to try and incorporate the incident as part of its wider antitrust investigation.

While the claims of the DoJ's App Store antitrust probe could eventually lead to some form of case against Apple, it does so while lagging behind other regulators in the world.

The introduction of the European Union's App Store regulations in the form of the Digital Markets Act puts pressure on Apple to allow third-party app marketplaces to exist, among other changes. In November, Apple was preparing to fight the DMA regulations, including the third-party app storefront elements.

Even so, Apple also admitted in financial filings in November that it expected to be forced to allow third-party storefronts in Europe starting in 2024, with the changes thought by the company to be inevitable.