Epic v. Apple: Apple Made $100M From Fortnite, Tim Cook to Testify Friday – The Esports Observer
Attorneys for Apple on Wednesday asked U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers to dismiss Epic Games’ claim that it was unlawfully barred from accessing the iPhone’s iOS through the App Store when Fortnite was banned in August of 2020, (you can read the motion here). They also said that CEO Tim Cook would testify on Friday and would be the company’s final witness in the antitrust case.
Also on Wednesday, Apple Head of Game Business Development for the App Store Michael Schmid testified about how the company went out of its way to support Epic, taking calls on weekends and even on Christmas to deal with problems related to Fortnite. He also said that11 months prior to Fortnite getting pulled from the app store, Apple spent $1M USD to promote and market Epic’s popular battle royale game on the app store. It was also revealed this week that Apple made $100M off of Fortnite and Epic generated $700M in the 30 months the game was on the app store.
During his testimony, Schmid demonstrated how he could buy things for games outside of the app store ecosystem via a web browser, using Candy Crush, Hearthstone, and Roblox as examples. On cross, Epic attorney Lauren Moskowitz offered her own demonstration of buying things for Candy Crush, and said that the experience is not as seamless as Schmid would have the court believe, noting that the game can’t advertise within the iOS game directly to users about purchasing in-game items at a website because that would violate Apple’s anti-steering provisions.
On redirect by Apple lawyer Jay Srinivasan, Schmid pointed out that users can choose to save their log-in and password details in apps and on websites, making buying items for apps a bit easier. This may seem like a silly exchange to highlight, but Epic is trying to drive home the point that Apple doesn’t make it easy to do business outside the app store, while Apple is trying to say basically, “it’s not that bad.” As is the case with the truth, it’s somewhere in the middle of those two perspectives.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior VP of software engineering, testified that when the company first conceived the idea of the iPhone it envisioned a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” in building a “security architecture.” Federighi was there to point out that what Epic sought to do with its “store within a store” play in Fortnite would weaken the security of the iPhone. He also said that allowing third-party stores on iOS would create a whole new level of security concerns for the platform holder and its users.
Chances are that this trial will bleed into Monday, as Apple CEO Tim Cook will spend a fair amount of time testifying for Apple on Friday and will almost certainly be grilled vigorously by Epic lawyers into next week. By the end of Tuesday (it is expected that Apple and Epic lawyers will make some form of a final argument/back-and-forth debate before Rogers on Monday or Tuesday), the trial will likely be over and in the hands of Rogers.
While there has been a lot of testimony on both sides from expert witnesses and company executives over the few weeks, the most important testimony that the judge will consider is Apple’s anti-steering policy, which is basically why Fortnite was banned from the App store in the first place: it advertised its V Bucks currency inside its iOS app and directed users to buy directly from Epic, which is against Apple’s app store guidelines.
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