Apple and Epic Games have been fighting in court after the popular game Fortnite was removed from the App Store in August 2020, but there’s still a lot to come. Both companies are expected to face each other in a trial expected to begin on May 3, and Apple continues to strengthen its arguments to defend the App Store business model.
Following the findings of fact and conclusions of law filed by Apple with the court last month, the company once again takes issue with Epic’s accusations that Apple uses monopolistic practices to prevent competition on its platforms.
Apple says $100 billion have already been invested to support the App Store and the iOS ecosystem as the platform is a core feature of the iPhone and iPad. This includes investments to ensure the safety of users, who can trust the apps available there.
To counter the criticism about the commission rate that developers need to pay Apple, the company revealed that 83% of the apps and 76% of the games available on the App Store are completely free, so they don’t pay any commissions to Apple.
During the trial, economic experts consulted by both companies will testify in favor of what each believes, and now we know more about how Apple is expected to conduct its arguments in court.
Apple’s arguments against Epic
Richard Schmalensee, one of Apple’s economics experts, believes that game transactions face different competitive conditions than transactions for apps in other categories. The expert also thinks that the App Store’s business model doesn’t make it a leader in the digital gaming segment, which is something Apple has said in the past.
For Daniel Rubinfeld, the iPhone and iOS were already built with security in mind, which is why the company doesn’t let users sideload apps from outside the App Store. The economist, also an Apple expert, says this is how the platform has worked since the beginning — long before the iPhone had a strong market position.
Other experts heard by Apple claim that, contrary to what Epic says, the App Store and iPhone compete with other smartphones, tablets, PCs, and even game consoles. They also showed that most App Store users also have access to at least one device from another platform, suggesting that they can always access other apps that are not available on iOS.
Interestingly enough, Apple points out that only a small portion of Fornite’s revenue came from iOS, as the game is available for multiple platforms. The cross-platform model was again mentioned as a reminder that Apple allowed iOS players to interact with others and even access items purchased on other devices.
Project Liberty, which was detailed with Apple’s findings of fact and conclusions of law in April, is one reason why Epic Games may be accused of premeditatedly violating App Store policies. Epic had about 200 people, including outside lawyers and public relations advisors, working to purposely cause a conflict with Apple.
In October 2020, Judge Yvonne Rogers had concerns that Epic knew exactly what they were doing with the controversial Fortnite update.
Apple executives will also testify
As previously mentioned, some of Apple’s executives will also testify in the Apple vs. Epic Games case. Apple CEO Tim Cook, current Apple-fellow Phil Schiller, and SVP of Software Craig Federighi will be heard at the trial.
Craig is expected to talk about the security and privacy behind iOS, as well as some details about how the App Review process works. Phil should bring more context about the history of the App Store and how it was designed to ensure the best user experience, while Tim should detail the App Store business model and reinforce the company’s values.
Tim Cook, specifically, will likely be one of the last to be heard in the trial, which will begin on May 3 and, if all goes well, should end by the week of May 24.
Based on previous hearings, including some preliminary comments from Judge Yvonne Rogers and also mainstream decisions of the Supreme Court, Apple is confident that it can win the dispute against Epic in court.
- Fortnite removed from App Store after Epic Games added direct payment option
- Epic Games sues Apple over App Store rules, says it would create a competing iOS app store if allowed
- Judge says Apple may not be required to allow Fortnite on the App Store
- Tim Cook, Craig Federighi, and other Apple executives to testify in Epic Games case
- Epic deposition reveals Eddy Cue pushed to bring iMessage to Android in 2013, but was overruled
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