In what is set to become a test case with huge ramifications for the mobile industry, the maker of the popular Fortnite game has taken Apple to court, accusing it of running a monopoly.
Epic Games claims the smartphone maker is abusing its market dominance by only allowing games to be downloaded from its own AppStore. The argument has been made many times before, particularly over Apple’s hefty 30% commission on fees earned through paying for an app or ordering in-app upgrades, such as Fortnite’s V-Bucks.
The issue has come to a head as Apple users spent £51bn on the AppStore last year, up 30% on the year before.
A phone or a console?
The opening arguments underlined the way the case would develop over the rest of the month. Epic Games suggests an iPhone is a computer to which software, in the form of apps, can be downloaded.
Apple is claiming the iPhone and iPad are far more like games devices. Rather than working like a computer, they operate on a closed system just like a Nintendo, PlayStation or X-Box console.
Which side the judge in America falls on will have a huge impact for the future of apps. Developers will be hoping Epic Games’ demand that alternative app stores are made available to get their wares on iPhones without Apple’s 30% slice of income.
However, reporters are pointing out that even if Apple wins, the business could face a public relations disaster. There is speculation that emails being brought forward in evidence show Apple acknowledges its income is now so massive from app downloads that it should consider reducing its 30% cut for business that make substantial sums via the AppStore.
There are also internal emails that could be brought to light which suggest Apple was considering taking action against apps that try to move away from its payment mechanism to avoid that 30% fee.
The ruling, which is expected to have huge ramifications in the app industry, is expected some weeks after the hearing concludes at the end of May.
Featured image: Camilo Concha / Shutterstock.com