Epic Games and Apple have been locked in a legal battle for some time now, since Epic broke Apple’s App Store by circumventing the company’s in-app payment system and avoiding the 30 percent commission for its battle royale game Fortnite. Apple then swiftly removed the game from its App Store, which was followed by a legal suit from the developer, stating that the tech giant has violated antitrust laws and that it should allow third-party app stores to be run on the iOS platform. If this case swings towards Epic’s side, this will mean that Apple will have to allow users to install apps and use payment services from third-party sources that charge less.
Epic Games could end up winning its case against Apple
The latest development in the Epic Games vs Apple case is that Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook on Friday and it seems as if Epic Games could manage to pull out a surprising last-minute victory. This victory would then have wide-ranging ramifications for how iOS developers make money.
For the most part of the trial, Apple seemingly had an upper hand with it stating that it has to protect its users privacy and secure them against malware. It also stated that its policies were similar to other digital stores, even similar to some of Epic’s biggest financial partners including Sony and Microsoft.
Things have now taken a turn after Cook was summoned to the stand and the US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers grilled him with questions about his company’s restrictive App Store guidelines. The tone of Rogers’ questions have made people think that there might be a split ruling that is given at the end where Epic’s main requests could be declined, but at the same time also tell Apple to curb some of its practices and allow developers to link to cheaper purchase options externally.
Rogers during the session pressed Cook to admit that game developers generate the most revenue and help subsidize other apps on the store that pay no commissions. She said that the profits Apple reaps from game developers “appear to be disproportionate.” ”I understand this notion that somehow Apple is bringing the customer to the dance, but after that first time, after that first interaction, the developers are keeping customers with the game. Apple is just profiting from that, it seems me.”
Cook disagreeing with Rogers stated, ” free apps bring a lot to the table. Only the people who are really profiting in a major way are paying 30 percent commissions.”
To recall, at the start of the trial, Rogers also pressed Epic’s Cheif Tim Sweeney with tough questions on how this case’s ruling would ripple through the software world.
If the ruling allows developers to link to less expensive external options it would serve as a president for the rising antitrust scrutiny against Apple’s App Store from global regulators.
Third-party app stores of iOS could still be a distant dream
Even though developers might be allowed to use external sources for in-app payments, they could still not be allowed to develop third-party app stores for iOS. This is because Apple has made a strong case on security, which is why it does not let third-party digital stores or unvetted apps on its mobile platform. During Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi’s statements earlier this week, he stated that these policies help them defend their users from malware, and its main competitor, Android, which does not have such policies, has a much larger problem with malware.