James Lileks
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You might have heard there's an anti-trust suit filed against Apple that includes accusations that it's a monopoly. I had two reactions:

1. Am I wrong, or is only Hasbro allowed to make a board game called "Monopoly"? In other words, they have a monopoly on Monopoly, and you'd think the Justice Department would be on that in a jiffy.

2. I was unaware that the iPhone constituted a monopoly. To me, that's when one gouty plutocrat with big white whiskers and a top hat corners the pomegranate market, and hence controls the price of that particular commodity. Yes, you have to go to Apple for an iPhone, but that's like saying you have to McDonald's to get a Quarter Pounder. True, but not a complete definition of the hamburger-acquisition process.

Here's my concept of a monopoly.

"I'd like to buy a phone."

"Very good, sir, this is the iPhone, there are no others."

"What about the Android? The Pixel? The Samsung? That one in the AARP catalog that has buttons the size of Chiclets and one big button that says HELP and another that says KIDS?"

"We bought them, destroyed the inventory, razed the factories, salted the earth and disabled all existing models with a targeted electromagnetic pulse."

So it's not that. It has to be something else. The App Store? Because you can only buy apps for the iPhone from the App Store? OK, well, if I want Walmart bacon, I don't go to Target. If you want to buy apps from anywhere, you can get an Android. So that's not a problem.

From what I understand, part of the suit has to do with the way the iPhone handles and displays messages. Particularly the way the iPhone ostracizes green text bubbles. The attorney general mentioned the wretched plight of green-bubblonians. As Business Insider put it:

"U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland explained in a news conference Thursday that when an iPhone user messaged a non-iPhone user, the non-iPhone user's texts showed up as green bubbles in Apple Messages. As a result, iPhone users perceive rival smartphones as being lower quality because the experience of messaging friends and family who do not own iPhones is worse."

In case you're saying "this is all geek to me," it's like this: iPhone messages are in blue. Other messages are in green. This leads to a two-tier system that makes green messages socially demoted. If you're in the Apple iPhone world, blue is cool. If you get a green text, it's someone with an Android or some other déclassé device that reflects directly on your worth as a human being. Imagine this conversation:

"What's the matter? Something wrong?"

"No. And yes. I just got a text from Harmony."

"You mean Harmony Hildegard, the childhood friend who disappeared during a wedding in the woods 23 years ago and was thought to be abducted by Bigfoot?"

"Yes. She escaped. She has pictures of Bigfoot! You know how some weddings leave out disposable cameras? Well, she had one, and she took pictures! There's a whole colony of them in the woods, and they communicate with aliens. She has pictures of that too. She's returned with a message for humanity, and she's sending it to all her friends. Look!"

Other guy looks at the phone, and his face curdles.

"Ew. Seriously?"

"I know. Green text. I don't know if I should answer."

"Well she's obviously not our kind of people, Muffy. Block and delete."

I could not care less whether someone's text is green, but I'm not a miserable elitist cellphone addict. I am a reasonably happy elitist cellphone addict. Also, I should note that I'm not a lawyer. I'm just a guy, married to a former attorney in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.

Let me state for the record that I did not consult her on any of this, because she would have ruined it with facts. Let's just all agree that we should be nice to each other no matter what color the bubble might be. Green, blue — let us join hands and unite, and make fun of the people whose texts come in gray.

What a bunch of losers they are.

james.lileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 • On X: @Lileks • facebook.com/james.lileks