Ahead of the upcoming benchmark against Epic Games, Apple today filed 500 pages of documents covering facts and conclusions of the law, which basically summarize the information exchanged between Apple and Epic, present the relevant facts to the judge and argue for it. conclusions to be drawn when the law is applied to the case.
Apple sticks to many of the talking points it has claimed since the beginning of its dispute with pEpic Games. The App Store has remained unchanged in terms of overall fee structure since it first debuted in 2008, and while policies have been updated, development principles have remained the same.
Apple sees Epic’s challenge as an attack on its basic 13-year læggApp Store business model. Apple maintains that its strict app review guidelines provide consumers with security, confidentiality and reliability, something its devices are also known for, leading to significant benefits for end users and developers.
The 30 percent fee charged by Apple is in line with the fees charged by other app markets and software vendors, according to a study commissioned by Apple earlier this year, which Apple recently introduced the Small Business program to reduce fees to 15 percent for developers earning less than $ 1 million annually. Apple entered a market where 30 percent of commissions were already accepted – it did not set that rate when the App Store was launched.
In response to allegations that the App Store is anti-competitive because alternative app stores are not allowed on the iPhone, Apple points to competition in the device and gaming transaction market. There are other platforms that people can choose along with other game options, and web apps are supported on iPhone and iPad as game options that Microsoft and Google have already taken advantage of. Apple uses Epic’s main title, Fortnite, to illustrate its point.
Epic’s flagship game, Fortnite, illustrates the competitive landscape. Apple supports “cross-platform” play and cross-platform transactions. The same consumer can make in-app purchases of V-Bucks on his iPhone (via the browser) during a lunch break and on a console at home in the evening. Apple allows (unlike some of its competitors) “cross-wallet” games, so in-game purchases – called V-Bucks in Fortnite – can be made on one device and used on another. In other words, an iOS user can buy V-Bucks on a PC and then (before Fortnite’s removal) use them in Fortnite on their iPhone or iPad – with Epic not even owing a penny commission to Apple.
Epic internal documents related to “Project Liberty” suggest that Epic has been planning against Apple and Google since 2008. Epic started Project Liberty when it saw a decline in its average monthly active users and revenue, devising a strategy to pay less commission, while still taking advantage of the benefits of the App Store and the money that Apple has invested in the ecosystem.
Epic Games hired lawyers and a public relations firm as part of the plan to sue Apple and eventually scaled down hundreds of thousands of dollars. Epic outlined its plan to get Fortnite approved with hidden alternative payment options, which were then activated by a hotfix, leading to the current dispute. Epic internal documents described the legal battle against Apple and Google as “funny!” and considered how to get Apple and Google to reconsider their fees without “Epic Games” looking like “the bad guys.”
This was all part of a pre-planned media strategy called “Project Liberty.” Epic retained Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and a PR firm in 2019, and this lawsuit is the culmination of this effort. Epic seeks to portray Apple as the bad guy so it can revive fluttering interest in Fortnite. But ironically, when Epic was kicked off the iOS platform, it told gamers they could continue playing on consoles, PCs and other devices – demonstrating the existence of competition and the absence of monopoly.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, has confirmed Project Liberty in previous interviews and said Epic has spent months preparing the lawsuit against Apple, although Apple’s court case provides new insight into the lengths Epic went to rope Apple and Google into a competition case.
Apple claims that an extension of the antitrust law is unjustified and that Epic’s product market descriptions are inaccurate due to the other platforms with which the App Store competes. Apple claims that Epic overestimates the profitability of the App Store and that arguments that the review process is ineffective are inaccurate. Last year, Apple rejected 150,000 apps, and malware on iOS devices is almost unheard of compared to the large number of malicious apps found on PCs and Android devices.
Apple says that Epic’s claim that the market is only iOS apps will fail, and that the relief Epic seeks would be detrimental to consumers and developers as it would weaken the App Store. Apple also sees App Store as an integrated feature in iPhone and in-app purchases as an integrated feature in iApp Store, which does not allow for third-party payment options, which Epic aims for.
At the bottom, Epic is asking this court to force Apple alternative terms so Epic can make more money. But Epic’s request would harm other developers and consumers, in addition to imposing on Apple unprecedented obligations for Apple to open its proprietary systems and technology to third parties.
Epic trial with Apple Bench is set to begin on May 3rd, and it will end the week on May 24th. Both Epic and Apple will call high-profile witnesses, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple Fellow Phil Schiller, Apple chief engineer Craig Federighi and former iOS software chief Scott Forstall, who will testify on behalf of Apple.