Epic Games likely to lose Apple App Store lawsuit, but developers could still win

In a lawsuit, currently ongoing, Epic Games accuses Apple of monopolistic behavior on its App Store because the company requires app developers on the store to employ its payment system from which Apple charges a 15% to 30% fee.

Epic Games’ Fortnite violated Apple’s App Store guidelines by adding their own direct payment system, bypassing Apple’s (and in effect using Apple’s store for free to sell their wares). Apple promptly removed the offending app from the App Store.

Epic Games' Fortnite violated Apple's App Store guidelines
Epic Games’ Fortnite violated Apple’s App Store guidelines

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg News:

This week, it seems that Epic hasn’t been able to prove that the obligatory use of Apple’s payment system constitutes an abuse of monopolistic power, and it hasn’t shown that Apple is engaging in serious anti-competitive behavior. The testimonies from Epic’s side don’t appear to have moved the needle. An Apple representative said Epic is spending its time in court on irrelevant issues and continues to call witnesses that are helpful to Apple’s story…

Even if Epic loses the case, its crusade may still have an impact. The trial, which has been a national story for days, has highlighted several developer concerns with the App Store. The iPhone maker may walk away from the trial freshly motivated to appease developers over the long-term, and avoid future lawsuits that could potentially be even more embarrassing than this one.

MacDailyNews Take: Regardless of Epic Games quixotic lawsuit, Apple can and does change the App Store rules as markets and conditions warrant.

I think with the regulatory questions and scrutiny, we have to make sure that we’re telling our story and why we do what we do, and we’re very focused on doing that. If we feel that more disclosure would help, we would obviously move in that direction. The App Store and other parts of Apple are not cast in concrete. And so, we can move and are flexible with the times.

For example, in the App Store, as you know, just a couple of quarters ago, we lowered the commission rate for small developers to 15%. So that was an example of moving with the times, and we’ve gotten a great, great reception to that. And so, we continue to learn, and I think it’s very important that we’re very clear about why we do what we do. The idea behind curating the App Store in order to get the privacy and security that our customers want, I think is very important, and we have to convey that in a very straightforward manner.Apple CEO Tim Cook, April 28, 2021

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