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Epic Slams Apple’s “Walled Garden” In Antitrust Case

Epic Games and Apple are facing off in court as the massive antitrust lawsuit gets underway in earnest.

The Fortnite developer is suing Apple for booting its game from the App Store and revoking its developer licence following the introduction of an alternative payment in the Fortnite app, in contravention of App Store rules.

In its opening statement, Epic hit at Apple for its “walled garden” approach to its devices, saying it exhibits monopolistic behaviour. Epic alleges that Apple imposes onerous restrictions on developers in its contracts, and that founder Steve Jobs in 2008 said the App Store’s licencing agreements are designed to “avoid competitors”, as reported by Bloomberg.

Apple has countered that the App Store’s policies are designed to protect customers’s safety and privacy, and that if Epic won the case, it could potentially impact other app stores like those of Sony and Nintendo.

Additionally, the iPhone manufacturer rejected Epic’s assertion that Apple was the only store that charged a 30 per cent commission on app sales, pointing out that storefronts such as Steam, the PlayStation Store, and the Google Play Store take similar if not higher fees.

It has also emerged during the case that, in 2011, Apple’s top App Store executive Phil Schiller suggested reducing Apple’s cut of App Store fees from 30 per cent to 25 or 20 per cent once the storefront started generating $1 billion in annual profit.

“I’m not suggesting we do anything differently today, only that whenever we make a change we do it from a position of strength rather than weakness,” Schiller wrote in an email to head of services Eddy Cue.

The email from Phil Schiller, exhibited by Epic in court.

The case, Epic Games Inc. v. Apple Inc., 20-cv-05640, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland), is being presided over by District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers and will run for three weeks. Epic will present its witnesses first, and it is understood Apple will later call its CEO Tim Cook as well as Schiller and other executives to describe how the App Store was designed.

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