PR News: DOJ’s Lawsuit Against Apple

The U.S. Department of Justice along with 16 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against Apple on Thursday, alleging that the company has illegally monopolized the smartphone market, and in doing so stifled innovation by locking out competitors from its app ecosystem, harmed consumers and caused prices to be artificially high.

The move sent the tech company’s stock price further south—dropping 4.1% on Thursday—following several weeks of bad news, including the cancellation of its decade-long, costly electric vehicle project, copious Apple Vision Pro returns and a $2 billion anti-trust fine handed down by Europe.

Communications takeaways: Communications experts agree that Apple’s response, which promises to “vigorously defend” against the suit, signals a firm stance in the face of legal challenges. But as the legal battle ensues, Apple could take a more personalized, consumer-led approach.

Eric Rose, partner at public affairs firm EKA and crisis and reputation expert, commends Apple for the company’s “swift and assertive” response. But moving forward, a more personal and human touch is warranted. “The high-profile nature of the altercation demanded more than just a statement,” he says. “Apple must quickly pivot and recognize the need for direct and personalized communication.”

Similarly, Geoff Vetter, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at CLYDE, says that Apple’s response, which emphasizes how the proprietary nature of their technology increases security and interoperability, is a common argument from tech companies facing regulatory or political hurdles in recent years. But a personalized approach that highlights the consumer perspective would be appropriate.

“What’s next for Apple, and an important approach for any organization facing this level of scrutiny, is responding through the authentic perspective of their customers,” he says. So, it would behoove the company to prove that it’s in fact delivering a beloved service for consumers rather than limiting their experiences. “At the end of the day, most people like using their iPhones because they work well,” Vetter says. “Elevating those voices is how you turn a fight over profits and patents into one where you’re protecting consumers.”

As for the implications on the tech industry as a whole, how Apple fares in this legal quagmire will determine how other tech companies behave and operate in the future.

“The lawsuit itself represents a significant challenge to Apple’s business practices,” Rose says. “Accusations of monopolistic behavior and anti-competitive practices strike at the core of the company’s operations. Apple’s ability to navigate this legal battle will have far-reaching implications for the future of the smartphone market and the broader tech industry.”

Reputation Advisors International