In Europe, we have a concept of abuse of a dominant position. http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consumers/abuse_en.html

When you develop an App for the very popular iOS devices, you're required to use a less popular MacOS device to do so. Is this an abuse of a dominant position in the mobile/cellular market to sell their (poor quality in my opinion!) MacOS devices?

  • 2
    I'm not familiar with iOS development, but could you clarify how you are required to use a MacOS device to do development? Is it a specific licensing thing or is it the fact that Apple has only released an IDE which runs on MacOS?
    – brhans
    May 14, 2018 at 13:26
  • I can't find anything in the license terms but this website lists the limitation: developer.apple.com/library/content/documentation/iPhone/… "Note: Development of iOS apps requires an Intel-based Macintosh computer with the iOS SDK installed."
    – mjaggard
    May 14, 2018 at 14:49
  • 2
    In addition, I've read somewhere (but can't find it now) that any applications compiled outside of MacOS (because there is no technical limitation as far as I can tell) will be rejected upon submitting to the Apple App Store.
    – mjaggard
    May 14, 2018 at 14:52
  • 1
    App stores are allowed to reject publishing your app for any reason or for no reason at all. Perhaps you should actually be asking if the app store concept is an abuse of power. In theory, it is for security and 'user exeperience', but in practice, they can reject anything if they feel like it.
    – Brandin
    May 16, 2018 at 10:12
  • 2
    @brhans You need Xcode, which is only available for MacOS X. MacOS X can only legally be installed on an Apple branded computer. To submit an app to the App Store, you need to prove who you are, and you need certificates to prove who you are. The tools handling this are only available as part of Xcode.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 15, 2018 at 13:02

2 Answers 2


I don’t think you can require Apple to develop all their tools for Windows as well. You can’t require them to make MacOS available for non-apple computers, and since there is massive precedent of malware generated by hacked versions of Xcode, I think they are completely within their rights to insist on original software being used for development.

  • 1
    Why couldn’t Apple be compelled to do these things (or pay a significant fine in default), if it were held that the use of their power in the mobile device market contravened European (or, for that matter, US) competition law? That is essentially what happened in the Microsoft antitrust case.
    – sjy
    Jun 15, 2018 at 4:55
  • Apple has 15% of the smartphone market. Does that answer your question? If it doesn't answer your question, how are consumers affected by this?
    – gnasher729
    Jun 15, 2018 at 21:48
  • No, it doesn't answer my question. Apple may not have a monopoly on the market for smartphones, but it does control – and arguably monopolises – the market for iPhone apps. That is the argument put by the respondents in Apple, Inc. v. Pepper – although the case won't go to trial if Apple wins its appeal to the Supreme Court, in which it challenges the circuit court's finding that the plaintiffs have standing.
    – sjy
    Jun 22, 2018 at 12:13
  • 1
    Your opponent in court can argue whatever they want, that doesn't make it right.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 14, 2018 at 22:44

"Abuse of a dominant position" is a concept from competition law. In Apple's home jurisdiction, the United States, this field is called antitrust and the concept of abuse of a dominant position is called (unlawful) monopolization.

Antitrust cases are legally complex, and there is usually significant room for debate about whether a particular company is breaking the law or pursuing its legitimate interests. There are a number of claims pending against Apple alleging unlawful monopolization of various iOS-related markets. Identifying the relevant market is another fundamental concept in competition law which can be hotly contested in litigation.

As of January 2023, the most authoritative legal opinion on the antitrust implications of Apple's control of iOS is the September 10, 2021 decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in Epic Games v. Apple. That decision has been appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral argument on November 15, 2022, but has not yet issued its decision.

Epic did not complain about the need to develop iOS apps on macOS. Rather, Epic says that Apple illegally monopolized its control over the "aftermarkets" for iOS app distribution and in-app payment processing. The district court rejected Epic's federal antitrust claim by adopting a definition of the relevant market which was closer to that advanced by Apple:

Ultimately, after evaluating the trial evidence, the Court finds that the relevant market here is digital mobile gaming transactions, not gaming generally and not Apple’s own internal operating systems related to the App Store. The mobile gaming market itself is a $100 billion industry. The size of this market explains Epic Games’ motive in bringing this action …

Having defined the relevant market as digital mobile gaming transactions … the Court cannot ultimately conclude that Apple is a monopolist under either federal or state antitrust laws. While the Court finds that Apple enjoys considerable market share of over 55% and extraordinarily high profit margins, these factors alone do not show antitrust conduct. Success is not illegal.

The district court's decision was sharply criticised by the Department of Justice, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Microsoft, who all filed amici briefs broadly in support of Epic's position. One commentator who has analysed the oral argument in the Ninth Circuit confidently predicts that "Apple will most likely lose this appeal" and "this case will presumably end up in the Supreme Court."

I will update this answer when a higher court determines the relevant market, under U.S. antitrust law, for assessing claims that Apple is unlawfully monopolizing its control over iOS.

  • Understood, but laws in the EU around this are often different to those in the US and in particular are often stronger against the possible monopoly. By selling into the EU, presumably Apple would be held to account by the EU and other juristrictions. Existing lawsuits are mostly in the US, presumably because they would likely affect all of Apple's worldwide markets if Apple were to lose?
    – mjaggard
    Jan 10 at 17:07
  • Meanwhile Epic has been in trouble elsewhere for tricking people into making unwanted purchases and making it very hard to get their money back, and for very un-private default primacy settings.
    – gnasher729
    Jan 10 at 17:47
  • 1
    @mjaggard No doubt similar arguments could be presented under EU competition law. However, these arguments are hard to evaluate until a judge has ruled on them, so I have focused on the ongoing litigation that I am aware of. It is significant that U.S. litigation could theoretically result in the "death penalty" (ie. breakup) for a U.S. corporation.
    – sjy
    Jan 14 at 14:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.