The Apple vs. Epic Saga Continues

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There are now new developments in Apple’s antics to deter healthy competition in pursuit of money as Apple has denied Epic’s Game store notarization twice, citing that the “Install” button is similar to Apple’s “Get” button, the “In-app purchases” label is similar to Apple’s as well.

What Saga of Apple vs. Epic?

All of this started back in 2020 with project “Liberty” which was Epic’s initial move in offering a way for customers to pay directly to Epic without Google or Apple getting some of the commission. This violated Google and Apple’s policies of purchases made in their respective app stores. Epic also made customers aware that purchasing directly through Epic would get them a 20% discount instead of through Google or Apple stores.

This resulted in Google and Apple both removing Epic from their platform but this as we now know is what Epic wanted. Epic then released the famous parody on one of Apple’s advertisements from the 1984 superbowl titled “Nineteen-Eighty fortnite” and labeling Tim Cook the villain and urging players to join to stop 2020 becoming like George Orwell’s “1984”.

With this release Epic sued Apple with the argument that Apple had a lot of illegal policies that developers were forced to follow which allowed apple to remain monopolistic and anti-competitive. The main policies that Epic layed out were that:

  • Forcing developers to use Apple’s payment processing
  • Apple gets a 30% commission on all in-app purchases made
  • Developers cannot make customers aware of alternative payment options (anti-steering)
  • No distributions of products outside the Apple Store

Apple’s response was to counter sue Epic on the grounds that Epic had breached their policy agreement and they were seeking damages for “lost revenue”.

A ruling was reached around September 2021, where a federal judge issued that Epic was guilty on 9 out of the 10 counts the last count Epic was not guilty as it was truly illegal in California Law, that being Apple’s “anti-steering” policy.

This ruling did not fare well on either industry giants and both had filed appeals but the IS they were mostly upheld. Which pushed both companies to make an appeal to the Supreme Court which declined on hearing it sealing the original ruling as it was.

Even though Epic was guilty on most counts this was a landmark ruling as it meant that developers can now ask customers for alternative means of pay thus allowing them to bypass the 30% commission that was previously in place.Which would have been the case but Apple updated its policies where developers could include links to the said alternative payment options  but they would need Apple’s permission AND if any purchase happens through that link within 7 days Apple gets a 27% commission.

Apple Thought they Could Get Away with it

In March of this year Epic filed a lawsuit again alleging that Apple’s updates to their policy was insufficient and “Apple is in blatant violation of the Court’s injunction”. This time other big tech companies joined in such as Microsoft, Meta, X who all filed and supported Epic’s claim of non-compliance. This lawsuit moved fast as an update was given in April where the judge had ruled that Apple’s practices “undermined the spirit of the injunction by limiting competition, impeding the free flow of information and constraining user choice”.  A hearing took place on this hearing on May 8th.

It seems Apple had mostly won the original 2021 lawsuit but over in the European Union(EU) they were faced with a groundbreaking Digital Markets Act (DMA) forcing Apple to make changes that allow users to download and install apps outside Apple’s Store.

This change is what Epic was prepared for as they were planning on launching an app store initially. In June, the EU also found Apple to be in violation of the anti steering policies it was found guilty in the US courts for. This ruling is set to take effect by March of next year and if it stands Apple faces a 38 billion dollar fine.

Some Notable Wins for Epic

In terms of fighting against Google’s App store since Epic filed against both it was a strange and surprising win since Epic won on all counts. On top of which the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple which has been labeled as a landmark antitrust case since the 90s.

What the Future on iOS could Look Like

If the EU and the DOJ can successfully implement these changes it could be a big change for iPhone users where they get more freedom to download from wherever they want instead of only looking through Apple’s App store. This could also show a general decrease in in-app purchases as companies don’t need to hike up the prices to mitigate this 30% or 27% commission which in the end is good for consumers obviously.

Users could also sideload applications to their iPhones which opens up a lot of possibilities in terms of advancements in software which was previously possible in various versions of android.

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