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The Brewing Battle Between Epic & Apple

The Brewing Battle Between Epic & Apple
May 17, 2021

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Apple’s reputation as a gatekeeper of technology is being put on trial in an antitrust case filed by video game and software creator, Epic Games.

What happened?

The game developer created Fortnite, a multiplayer shooter & survival game and cultural phenomenon, earning the company $9BN in the game's first 2 years. Trouble started when Epic released an iOS version but sidestepped the App Store’s payment system, avoiding the 30% cut on purchases. Apple then booted the game for violating Apple policies, leading Epic to file an antitrust lawsuit against the company.

A slide from Apple’s opening arguments presentation

What the lawsuit questions:

Epic is going after the App Store’s monopoly on third-party developers. The company makes the case that the App Store has become too powerful, reminiscent of the illegality of Microsoft’s Windows monopoly over second-party browsers in the '90s.

More Apple critics:

  • Senator Amy Klobuchar calls Apple and Google’s app stores “literal monopolies” and is hearing from other developers such as Tile and Spotify, who claim Apple's App Store has been squeezing developers.
  • Basecamp: A member alongside other Apple challengers in the Washington-based Coalition for App Fairness is an all-in-one platform for working remotely.

  • Match Group/Tinder: The public dating companies complain that the App Store holds updates in limbo for months, without saying why. Apple claims this characterization is inaccurate.

  • Tile: The accessory to help you find your keys cries unfair competition with regards to Apple’s latest copycat release: AirTag.

Apple: Love it or leave it

Critics say Apple’s tactics of engineered obsolescence, anti-competitive behavior, and ever-increasing category reach are dishonest & monopolistic, leading to a 65% U.S. market share for mobile phones in Q4, 2020. Apple counters that what it offers in terms of security and features is well worth the 30% cut. And so far, no legal threat has changed that perception.

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[New York Times]
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