FORTNITE maker Epic Games and Apple clashed in court yesterday at the opening of a blockbuster trial on the iPhone maker’s App Store with big implications for the world of mobile tech, trading barbs over alleged monopolistic actions and what is best for consumers.
Epic attorney, Katherine Forrest began the case, accusing Apple of turning its online marketplace into a monopoly “walled garden” that lures in developers and users and then squeezes money out of them.
Apple essentially planted a “flower in the walled garden (that) was turned into a Venus fly trap,” the lawyer said during opening statements in California federal court, claiming the technology titan gets profits of as much as 78 per cent from apps.
“The evidence will show unambiguously that Apple is a monopoly,” she claimed.
Apple lawyer, Karen Dunn fired back, telling the judge that Epic’s suit is part of a “self-proclaimed war against mobile platform fees” that defies the law and the facts.
Apple is no more a monopoly than is a grocery market that sells a broad array of goods, competing with other shops, Dunn maintained, pointing out that people can play Epic games on platforms including consoles, personal computers and smartphones made by Apple rivals.
“Apple did not create a secure and integrated ecosystem to keep people out, it did that so it could invite developers in — without compromising the privacy, reliability and quality consumers wanted,” Dunn said.
If Epic prevails, the result for consumers and developers will be: Less security. Less privacy. Less reliability. Lower quality. Less choice. All of the things the antitrust laws seek to protect,” Dunn said.
Epic, maker of the popular “battle royal” game Fortnite, is aiming to break the iPhone maker’s grip on its App Store.
Epic’s chief executive, Tim Sweeney, the first witness, said Apple’s actions forced his company to either accept unfavorable terms or lose the massive base of iPhone users.
“As Fortnite scales beyond gaming… it is essential to include the more than one billion iPhone users,” Sweeney said in his testimony.
A key element of Apple’s business model is at stake in the case, said Tejas Narechania, a University of California law professor.
“It’s going to tell us a lot about how we structure industries and the technology industry going forward. Which is how tightly can companies like Apple and Amazon and Google, how tightly can they vertically integrate their products?” he asked.
But due to the legal row, Fortnite fans using iPhones or other Apple devices no longer have access to the latest game updates.