Does anyone think Apple’s $147 billion cash horde is a reward that was required to induce Steve Jobs to create the iPhone? It’s obviously not necessary to cover other costs.
Monopoly profit is by definition profit that’s not necessary to induce production. When a firm generates a large cash horde, it’s because it doesn’t know what to do with the money. Which means: it doesn’t need the money!
In a world in which antitrust were taken seriously, a cash horde of $147 billion would be prima facie evidence of illegal monopolization.
And the government would force Apple to rebate it to consumers.
Update (11/12/14): Krugman is on the case.