Epic v. Apple: The legal challenge that could remake the future of the digital economy
May 2, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 17.2%. 2 min read.
This illustration picture shows a person waiting for an update of Epic Games' Fortnite on their smartphone in Los Angeles on August 14, 2020. - Apple and Google on August 13, 2020 pulled video game sensation Fortnite from their mobile app shops after its maker Epic Games released an update that dodges revenue sharing with the tech giants. (Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Ever since it was launched in 2008, the Apple App Store has been the sole gatekeeper between apps and iPhones and iPads. Other platforms, such as Google's Android, allow apps to be downloaded through third-party app stores. For any developers who want on to Apple's mobile devices, though, the choice is simple — it's the App Store or nothing.
The judge's ruling — and, of course, the appeals that will almost certainly follow — could have huge ramifications not only for Apple and its iOS ecosystem, but potentially for other app stores and the overall app economy, which has grown to hundreds of billions of dollars and supports millions of jobs.
As a violation of Apple's rules against outside payment channels, the announcement led to the game's swift removal from the Apple app store.
With the suit, Epic alleges that Apple holds a monopoly on the distribution of iOS apps, and that Apple's rules around payments are illegal because they shut out potential rivals.
If it weren't for Apple's rules, Epic would launch its own iOS app store and offer cheaper payment systems, the company has said in court filings.
Records introduced during the pre-trial process showed that Epic developed a whole campaign to challenge Apple, called Project Liberty, of which the Fortnite app update and promotion were a critical part.
Apple's store may be the only place for users to download iOS apps, but it isn't the only place users can find Fortnite or other video games, Apple argues.
Last month Apple was fined $12 million in Russia over alleged anti-competitive app store policies; the company has disputed the allegations.
Apple and Google were forced to defend their app store policies before a US Senate hearing last month led by the powerful antitrust subcommittee.
Apple and Google rejected those allegations, arguing in the hearing that their platform policies help ensure the safety and security of their app stores and that they do not engage in retaliatory behavior.