Department of Justice’s Lawsuit Against Apple Is Going After CarPlay, Too

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Full disclosure: I am not one of the 57.93 percent of cellphone customers in the U.S. currently making calls on an iPhone. This also means that I don’t use Apple CarPlay.

I’m not looking for sympathy here—I’m only suggesting that if I felt my life would be better with an iPhone and CarPlay, I’d have it, but I get by fine with Google-owned Android Auto. (Except in General Motors electric vehicles—you’ll recall the announcement last December that GM is dropping both CarPlay and Android Autos in their EVs, in the name of safety. You’ll still be able to pair up your phone using Bluetooth.)

I mention this because the automotive media have suddenly been paying attention to the Department of Justice’s March 21st announcement that the DOJ is suing Apple for monopolizing smartphone markets.

It isn’t surprising it has taken this long—in the DOJ’s own press release on the suit, it mentions iPhones, Super Apps, cloud streaming, cross-platform messaging apps, the Apple watch and the Apple Wallet, but nowhere does it mention that the DOJ is going after Apple CarPlay.

In fact, it devotes only one page in the 88-page report to CarPlay. According to the suit, “Apple’s ‘moat’ around its smartphone monopoly is wide and deep: it uses a similar playbook to maintain its monopoly through many other products and services,” such as CarPlay.

Here’s a link to the full report. The CarPlay bit begins on the bottom of page 48.

“After leveraging its smartphone dominance to car infotainment systems, Apple has told automakers that the next generation of Apple CarPlay will take over all of the screens, sensors, and gauges [emphasis ours], forcing users to experience driving as an iPhone-centric experience if they want to use any of the features provided by CarPlay. Here too, Apple leverages its iPhone user base to exert more power over its trading partners, including American carmakers, in future innovation.” That’s an assertive assessment—one that will need to be proven.

So how important is the case against CarPlay? Pretty important, says Sam Fiorani, vice-president for global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions. “Apple’s use of data gathered by CarPlay is, at this point, minimal, but it will grow. And I don’t know how this lawsuit affects that.” Definitely, the market will be huge for “whoever can get that data. So if it’s Apple, they are definitely going to be affected by any sort of lawsuit where they’re limiting resources.”

Despite the wide-reaching potential to impact how we connect our smartphones with our increasingly smart cars, the suit is unlikely to impact the consumer in the short term. The DOJ, however, can move quickly. It filed a comparable suit against Microsoft on May 18, 1998, “to remedy the affects of its past unlawful conduct.” It was settled in 2002.

Still, the Apple lawsuit is very wide-ranging, and Apple doesn’t plan to roll over. “If successful, [the suit] would hinder our ability to create the kind of technology people expect from Apple—where hardware, software, and services intersect,” said the company in a statement. “It would also set a dangerous precedent, empowering government to take a heavy hand in designing people’s technology. We believe this lawsuit is wrong on the facts and the law, and we will vigorously defend against it.”


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    Every piece of information that I hear about new cars and all of this non-car related stuff that manufacturers keep jamming them into makes me more than ever not want a new car. Good luck getting my cellphone to take over my ’72

    I just link by bluetooth and skip the rest. I have near 20K songs and I can get the calls and audio text via steering wheel options on my GMC. I never liked Android or Car Play.

    I just installed Bluetooth in my older Corvette so I will have my songs. It is all I need.

    If the Bandit and Snowman had used Google on the best route East Bound and Down he would have been 55 min late.

    It’s a stupid case. Apple doesn’t have a monopoly, as evidenced by the fact that you can buy and Android third party phone or a Pixel.

    One hopes this case will just go away come next January 20th.

    There is a concept in my industry called market control, where even if you do not control the entire market, if you control enough of it you gain too much influence over things like pricing – and apparently forcing other manufacturers to adopt your stupid policies

    The control lies in the customer’s expectations. We expect Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to be integrated into new cars in large part because they are better than what the manufacturers are offering.

    Apple is to technology what Hagerty is to classic cars. There are options for each, just not nearly as good. Why the hate against innovative companies, spending a fortune in R&D to improve our lives?

    Exactly. Make a product as good or better and people will want it. We are finally getting technology the way we dreamed it would be 40 years ago–where many different components were tightly integrated to improve our lives. Was it Apple’s monopoly (if anything, a duopoly–I’m sure Android owners feel dismissed hearing Apple is a monopoly) that created their stronghold that compels auto manufacturers to include support for CarPlay? Or is it customer demand for a quality product that improves their user experience? Are there any manufacturers supporting CarPlay and not Android Auto? I don’t think so. This case is founded on quicksand.

    As another NON apple user, please take them down, DOJ!!! I can buy earbuds that work with my phone for $20, but the apple ones cost $140, and the battery will not last as long. The EU has already made them get rid of their lightning cable for charging, will they beat the DOJ to the punch on their carplay?

    I don’t understand your comment, but perhaps it is because of your lack of familiarity with Apple products. You might be surprised to know your $20 earbuds work work just fine with Apple products, and deliver the same sound quality (or lack thereof).

    I have to agree with the annoyance of CarPlay taking over your screen. None of the three cars I won (2012 BMW X5, 2012 CTS-V and a 2016 Roush Mustang) came with CarPlay capability. However Ford does offer an updated USB Hub that enables CarPlay so I ordered and installed the updated part. My desire was specifically so that I can use Waze on my drives.

    As soon as the phone connects, CarPlay takes over. There is still an option to revert to the OEM screens, but it blocks out the maps (not as important). What annoys me more is that I can no longer see what is playing on the radio. You can only see what is streaming from your phone and there is no option to be able to see what radio stations are playing.

    So I have reverted to not having my phone connect CarPlay unless I actually intend to use it for Waze.

    Seems like this is more about grabbing some sweet money for the government and less about the tech and it’s use/abuse. I wonder how long before the big multi-million payout from Apple to the government is announced. Apple and Google are both bad, Apple just has a bigger playground to play in.

    There is no need the software being integrated into the vehicle other than the OEM’s being able to sell your habits and history to third parties which you cannot opt out of. You can use your smart phone to perform these functions if desired.

    My cars support the option of choosing either Android or Apple for integration into the car’s infotainment systems. I don’t see the monopoly in that equation. However, GM has now said that it won’t use CarPlay on it’s new models, instead using a GM-based Android variation, with the reason given that they will offer a better experience by controlling the user’s interaction with GM’s infotainment/automation systems. THAT seems to me to be more of a monopolistic move than having the option to choose between Android or Apple interfaces. Not a fan of the GM move – which will also impact my vehicle purchases in the future (and I have been a GM customer for decades).

    For the people who think it is a frivolous lawsuit. I have used both platforms. While I prefer many parts of the apple interface other parts suck. Apple is much more tightly controlled then the android platform. This control costs the consumer more and the way they have asserted their control is by breaking antitrust laws. Many of Apple’s controls have actually stifled improvements in the technology. For instance they do not play nice and allow cross platform supper apps because then you could be more flexible in choosing your phone. (For instance a company providing one phone integration system rather than having to have two.) The apple phones have a fixed amount of memory so you can not expand your memory with a memory card or even easily transfer your information to a new phone. They only allow monetary transactions like instant pay through their app. They do not allow the normal functions of other smart watches to integrate well with their phones and their watches are designed not to work with other phones. Note as well that they have over half our cell phone users in the US and then all the other companies split up what is left as there are multiple players using the android technology and there are others as well like google pixel. Then what really burns me up is the way they have made messaging between platforms suck. If I share a video or photo with an apple platform and an android the apple gets a higher quality item sent while apple is designed to downgrade your content for any android users. Not just that they have not allowed better integration in texting in a way that decreases the safe transfer of your text data to a non apple friend. While I currently use an apple phone I highly applaud the DoJ for going to bat. As a society we need to decide if in the name of technological innovation we really want to say”hey tech no rules for you.” It is like the issue with children. Everyone worries about protecting them physically. Bike helmets, can’t walk home from school, stranger danger, shooter drills etc. however, when it comes to massively addictive technologies (basically all social media platforms) where a bad actor can easily pretend to be someone else and where children our spending often more then 8 hours a day we throw up our hands and say everything is ok we can’t stifle innovation. 10 years ago if a high school class was given the last five minutes of a class period do do what they wanted they would burst into conversation. Now that is greeted by the silent picking up of their phones as they “socialize” with social media rather then speak to the person next to them. Don’t get me wrong I am not a luddite, I love me a lot of technology, we just need to stop assuming they have our best interests as consumers at heart and stop pretending like reasonable guard rails are not even possible. We are re-wiring the human brains of our young people. The Alfred E Newman saying, “What me worry” comes to mind here as we allow large corporations to control more and more of our lives while we insist we can not do anything to change it.

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