At a court hearing yesterday, Apple and Epic Games kicked off the most controversial debate over apps since we ordered mussels in North Dakota.
The backstory: In August, Fortnite maker Epic launched an attack against Apple that will go down as the Lexington and Concord of this revolution. It introduced a feature that sidestepped Apple’s 30% cut on in-app purchases, knowing that Apple would pull Fortnite from its App Store for breaking the rules. Then came a flurry of lawsuits.
That removal was the subject of yesterday’s hearing, but the judge is not expected to reinstate Fortnite in the App Store, according to Bloomberg.
Why it matters
When you think about “monopolies,” you probably conjure up images of industrial barons like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Today’s version of that, critics say, is Apple’s App Store, a critical gateway to the digital economy that charges George Washington Bridge-like tolls for access.
The rebuttal: Apple says it does a lot of dirty work, like vetting apps for privacy and security issues, and its fees reflect the services it provides to developers and consumers. Apple has knocked Epic as a “multibillion-dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store.”
Google has entered the chat
Google’s not the Evil Empire in this drama, but it hasn’t exactly been Switzerland, either. It also charges a 30% cut of in-app purchases, booted Fortnite off its app marketplace, and faces a lawsuit from Epic Games.
Yesterday, Google released updates meant to fend off growing antitrust concerns, most notably that the next version of its operating system, Android 12, will make it easier for users to access third-party app stores (Apple can’t say this because the App Store is the only app store available on iPhones).
Bottom line: Whatever the outcome—and it could take years to resolve—the Epic v. Apple battle shows how app stores have morphed from a small icon on your phone into some of the world’s most important marketplaces.
Via Morning Brew