Apple Faces Epic Games In Court

By Ben Hamill - May 04 2021
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After several months of hype and warring, Epic Games and Apple are finally facing each other in court. The trial, one of the most important in Apple’s history, began on Monday. Tim Cook, Apple’s big boss, will be providing evidence, marking the first time he will be giving testimony at a trial. 

The future of the App Store is at stake, as well as the amount that it charges developers. Up until now, this has been a wildly lucrative money spinner for Apple. The start of the trial was quite chaotic, as the public hearing failed to mute those who were listening in via phone call. This resulted in calls from fans for the return of Fortnite to mobiles accidentally being broadcast.

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Epic Games Set A Trap For Apple

All of this began in August last year, when Epic Games set a trap for Apple. Fortnite, the hit game, implemented its own in-app payment, which was able to bypass Apple’s charges of an additional 30%. Apple then kicked Epic Games off of the App Store in retaliation. However, this was exactly the move that Epic Games had been waiting for.

Shortly after, Epic presented Apple with a 65-page lawsuit. For years, Epic has claimed that the tech giant’s charges hare extortionate. They believe that Apple’s control over the App Store is anti-competitive. Spotify, Match and Tile all agree that Apple’s charges are unfair.

Outside of China, Apple’s App Store and Google’s Google Play are the dominant app stores globally. Epic Games has previously attempted to sell Fortnite away from both of these stores. It tried to “sideload” the app onto Android phones as a means of avoiding Google’s own 30% charge. However, not enough people downloaded the game away from Google Play.

So-Called Apple Tax An Issue

Unwilling to lie down and accept the charges, which it has aptly named “Apple Tax”, Epic Games has decided to sue the company instead. Worryingly for Apple, many of its App Store critics come from across the political divide.

Two weeks ago, Kyle Andeer, Apple’s Chief Compliance Officer, was grilled by lawmakers. Politicians of all stripes were united in their attacks on Apple. The App Store was described as a “literal monopoly”. On Friday, the European Union announced that it would be charging Apple for the way it behaved on the App Store.

The key factor that the judge in this case will need to decide is whether the App Store is an essential facility or public utility that no one company should control.

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