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Closing Arguments Completed In Apple-Epic Antitrust Case

 |  May 24, 2021

Apple & Epic made their final pitch to a federal judge Monday, May 24, Epic looks to curb the market power of the App Store while the iPhone maker pleaded to leave its marketplace for 2 million apps undisturbed, reported Bloomberg.

US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers heard closing arguments Monday from attorneys for the creator of the blockbuster game Fortnite and the iPhone maker in a case that threatens to upend the how the US$142 billion world of mobile applications is managed.

Reprising the themes of a three-week trial in Oakland, California, the lawyers debated a set of topics, including the scope of the market in which Epic claims Apple wields power and whether Apple’s tight controls on its store hurts developers and users. Gonzalez Rogers, who is deciding the case without a jury, said she hopes to deliver a ruling as soon as possible but she didn’t specify a date.

After aggressively questioning Apple CEO Officer Tim Cook Friday in his first time testifying as a witness, the judge on Monday asked how Apple’s practice of taking a 30% commission from developers for in-app purchases made through its App Store has remained unchanged since the store opened in 2008.

“If there was real competition, that number would move and it hasn’t,” Gonzalez Rogers said. “If the relevant market here includes developer-side competition, so far there doesn’t seem to be anything that is in the market itself that is pressuring Apple to compete for developers.”

Apple’s lawyer Daniel Swanson said that Apple has improved its device quality even as its developer commission rate stayed the same. Games played on Apple’s iOS operating system can “hold their own” with some of the best games on consoles and PCs, Swanson said. “That is quality competition.”

Epic sued Apple in August, after the iPhone-maker removed Fortnite from its App Store because the gaming company created a workaround so it wouldn’t have to continue paying a 30% fee on customers’ in-app purchases. The case has drawn interest across Silicon Valley, with everyone from Microsoft Corp. to Nvidia Corp. weighing into the fight. In November, Apple sliced its revenue cut from 30% to 15% for developers who generate up to US$1 million in revenue.

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