Epic Games and Apple face off: a duel of the titans closely followed by the entire industry
The lawsuit brought by Epic Games against Apple is closely watched by the entire tech industry as the publisher of the Fortnite gaming phenomenon tries to question the functioning of the dominant platforms, which control the huge mobile app economy.
Last summer, Epic Games threw a stone into the puddle by offering its players to buy the cheapest Fortnite virtual currency if they went directly through its payment system, and not Apple's, which charges a 30% commission for these transactions. . The Apple brand immediately removed the game from the App Store, its app store for iPhones and iPads. Fans of the "battle royale" title who only own Apple mobile devices haven't had access to updates since.
Epic Games files a complaint
Epic Games has filed a complaint against the Californian group for abuse of a dominant position. After months of legal and media exchanges, the case will be heard by Judge Yvonne González Rogers for three weeks in Oakland, a city near San Francisco. The two companies have agreed to a trial without a jury. Tim Cook and Tim Sweeney, the two bosses, are scheduled to testify in person. On the other hand, with few exceptions, the teams of lawyers, the press and the public will attend the discussions by phone or Zoom, as a health precaution measure.
Apple "has built an ecosystem to restrict application distribution, exclude rivals, harm competition and consumers," Epic Games summarized in court documents filed in early April. The iPhone maker is widely regarded as a judge and jury, setting the rules for entering this market of at least one billion people, and its transaction fee, while offering its own apps.
An "economic miracle"
The App Store is an "economic miracle," Tim Cook responded in a New York Times podcast interview in early April. "Apple has helped build an economy that generates more than $ 500 billion a year, and it only gets a fraction of that amount for all the innovation it has facilitated and operating costs," he said. The tech group has argued for years that its 15-30% commission on sales made through the App Store is at a standard level and is used to ensure the proper functioning and security of the platform.
Epic: 350 million players
"Epic will use its huge user base (around 350 million registered Fortnite players around the world), which has no equivalent, to generate support through social media," said Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities. But he notes that Apple's defense is well established and has not faltered for years. "Wall Street sees this threat as a dog that barks but does not bite. When Apple wins, we believe it will strengthen the group's control over its App Store and its payments."
The battle could go on
With resources and resources, the battle could go on for years. But it could also influence the current debate on competition law. Because Epic is not alone in this quest. In May, it teamed up with a dozen companies, including music streaming services Deezer and Spotify, under the banner "Coalition for App Fairness." Several US antitrust regulators are investigating Apple's practices, as well as those of the online trading platform Amazon.
Apple has "distorted the competition"
The European Union, seized from a complaint by Spotify, estimated that the iPhone manufacturer has "distorted the competition" to unseat its rivals, in particular thanks to "very high" commissions that de facto includes its own applications. On Android, Google's system, which is largely predominant on smartphones, the store works in a similar way, with one important difference: other download platforms are allowed.