Epic Games Inc., an ally that became an enemy of Apple Inc., filed its final release with a federal judge to curb the market power of the App Store, while the iPhone maker called for it to stop its market for 2 million hassle-free applications.
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on Monday heard attorneys’ final arguments for Fortnite box game creator and iPhone maker in a case that threatens to end the world’s mobile app management of $ 142 billion.
Taking up the issues of a three-week trial in Oakland, California, lawyers discussed a set of issues, including the scope of the market in which Epic claims that Apple wields power and whether Apple’s strict controls on its store harm developers and users. González Rogers, who decides the case without a jury, said he hopes to give a resolution as soon as possible, but did not specify the date.
After aggressively asking Apple CEO Tim Cook on Friday for his first time testifying as a witness, the judge asked Monday how Apple’s practice of receiving a 30% commission from developers for purchases made since the app through its App Store has remained unchanged since store opened in 2008.
“If there was real competition, that number would move and it won’t,” González Rogers said. “If the relevant market here includes competition from the developer side, so far there doesn’t seem to be anything that is pushing Apple to compete for developers.”
Apple’s attorney, Daniel Swanson, said Apple has improved the quality of the device, though its percentage of developer commissions remains. Games played on Apple’s iOS operating system can be “kept up” with some of the best games on consoles and computers, Swanson said. “This is a quality competition.”
Epic sued Apple in August, after the iPhone maker removed Fortnite from its app store because the gaming company created a solution, so it shouldn’t continue to pay a 30% fee for purchases integrated into the customer application. The case has sparked interest in Silicon Valley, with everyone from Microsoft Corp. to Nvidia Corp. In November, Apple cut its revenue by 30% to 15% for developers who generate revenue of up to $ 1 million.
A decision in favor of Epic would loosen Apple’s appearance in its store and could alter the way millions of developers distribute apps to users of portable devices around the world. It could also drive action by the U.S. Department of Justice and other global regulators to examine the scope of Apple’s power as a gateway to the digital economy.
Lawyers spent a lot of time arguing over an issue on which they have disagreed in the legal struggle from the outset: the definition of the market in which Apple displays alleged antitrust behavior.
Epic has argued that Apple exercises market control over the distribution of mobile apps on iPads and iPhones to profit from commissions on payments made for virtual goods within apps. In contrast, Apple claims to compete in a marketplace for digital gaming transactions that occur on numerous devices, including video game consoles.
“There’s no substitute” for accessing apps, including the Fortnite app, on iOS other than the App Store, Epic attorney Gary Bornstein said. Getting the same app on an Android device or video game consoles isn’t the same as replacing Apple to allow alternative app stores to iOS, he said.
Swanson bolstered Apple’s position that the market should be broadly defined to include digital transactions between devices. Swanson claimed the Fortnite manufacturer’s argument about device replacement is a “red herring.”
Lawyers also faced Epic’s request for a ruling ordering Apple to allow other app markets alongside the App Store.
The problem is that “they’re the only store in town” and “the only store out there to get apps on the iPhone,” Bornic of Epic said.
Apple’s attorney, Richard Doren, argued that if Epic wins, it would ruin the App Store the company has meticulously built by turning it into a “poor imitation” of Google’s Android open to alternative app stores .
González Rogers noted that Epic has also filed a similar lawsuit against Google for its Google Play app store policies. Since Epic has “sued Google for the exact model,” as Apple directed it to allow other app stores to fix the problem, he asked.
“We don’t argue that iOS should be exactly like Android,” Bornstein said. Epic’s lawsuit against Google may broadly cover similar claims, but it is specifically targeted at separate policies, he said.
The judge clarified that he was only kidding when he told companies on Friday that he hoped to govern on August 13th. He explained Monday that the date is exactly one year since the legal battle began.