The Epic v. Apple The process was booked by Tims. Epic Games named its CEO Tim Sweeney as the first witness almost three weeks ago. Apple was the last to call Tim Cook yesterday before both sides hear their final case in front of a judge on Monday. Cook should bring home Apple’s defense of its ecosystem. He did it by setting out Apple’s most haughty principles – but also its tough financial calculations.
Epic v. Apple deals with two different topics: whether the market for in-app purchases in the App Store is unjustifiably monopolistic and whether iOS self is a monopoly that should be opened up to third party businesses and sideloaded apps. Cook addressed both of them with an appeal for user security and privacy. “We think privacy is one of the most important issues of the century, and security is the foundation on which privacy is built,” he explained to an Apple attorney, repeating countless times iPhone advertising campaigns. “Technology has the ability to suck all kinds of data from people, and we want to give people tools to work around that.”
Sideload app support would redesign iOS, and it’s a lot easier for Cook and Apple to outline the potential downsides. There is risk in controlling users, and Cook argued that users choose iOS specifically so they don’t have to make risky decisions with sensitive data. “We try to offer the customer an integrated solution of hardware, software and services,” he said. “I just don’t think you’ll repeat that in a third.”
Epic made its own arguments: people can still choose to keep their phones locked, and they may want to access stores with even more carefully curated apps or even better privacy controls. Apple was previously accused of hypocrisy and pointed out to anecdotal errors in intercepting certain apps (like a game called) Ganja Farmer: Weed Empire) that violate the App Store guidelines. “It’s not 100 percent. It’s not perfect. You will find that mistakes are made, “Cook said when Apple’s attorney asked about these incidents. “But if you back it up with 1.8 million apps in the store and look at it in terms of things, we’ll do a really good job.”
Fortunately for Apple, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers hasn’t shown much interest in fully opening iOS. She kept asking questions about in-app purchases. Anti-steering regulationsand the structure of the individual Apps like Roblox, but rarely via app distribution or third-party sideloads. (One of those rare incidents seemed critical of Epic too.) While Rogers’ questions don’t necessarily specify how she will govern, there is a rather noticeable lack of requests for more detail or clarification.
However, the loss of the mandatory in-app purchase commission would still exist be a big blow for Apple. Cook used more privacy and security claims to defend this system, saying it was both unsafe and impractical to let apps process payments separately. However, he was also a little dull about Apple’s own interests. “IAP helps Apple to collect commission efficiently” – for payment processing, but also for customer service and the use of Apple’s intellectual property. Without in-app purchases, we’d have to “create a different system of invoicing developers, which I think would be a mess.” If Apple let developers know about other payment methods, Cook later said, “We’d essentially get our total return on investment give up for our IP. “
Apple called an expert yesterday to describe how its multi-billion dollar research and development costs are helping developers, including through APIs like Metal and CoreML. It’s not necessarily scary for Apple to take advantage of these investments. However, unlike better privacy and security features, higher profit margins do not directly improve consumer welfare, the key standard in antitrust proceedings. Judge Rogers ended Cook’s testimony with some of their most interesting questions so far, Grilling Cook over whether to buy in-app games – how Fourteen days V-Bucks and Candy Crush Gold – effectively subsidized the rest of the App Store.
Rogers doesn’t appear to be personal to like Video game microtransactions; She has thought several times about potentially predatory impulse buying. But it is important that she singled out games. Epic has made an effort to cover this suit for all App Store purchases while Apple has tried to limit it to sales of digital video games. (This is why Witnesses spent so much time try to define a game.) Cook’s survey found that Apple still has battles to fight if iOS stays intact and “gamers” are the only audience in question.