Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Epic Banned From Apple Development for a Year

Tim Cook, in July:

We want to get every app we can on the Store, not keep them off.

Apple, August 13:

We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.

But I missed, when writing yesterday’s post, that Apple’s position has changed. Epic’s motion includes this e-mail from Apple:

This letter serves as notice of termination of the Apple Developer Program License Agreement (the “ADP Agreement”) and the Apple Developer Agreement (the “Developer Agreement”) between Epic Games, Inc. (“you”) and Apple effective immediately[…]


Finally, please note that we will deny your reapplication to the Apple Developer Program for at least a year considering the nature of your acts.

Since it’s no longer possible for Epic to resubmit and comply with the rules for now, working out the financial settlement later, I now think that Epic is the more harmed party in the current situation. Perhaps that increases its odds in the September 28 preliminary injunction hearing. Otherwise, it would be banned from development and sales at least until the trial, which is nearly a year away.

The continued loss of Fortnite as a gathering place for users on all platforms will lead Epic’s customers to defect. Epic may never see these users again. It will also be denied the opportunity to access even a single new user among the one-billion-plus iOS users for at least the next year. The removal of Fortnite from iOS also substantially impedes a major Epic initiative—evolving Fortnite into a full-fledged “metaverse”, a multi-purpose, persistent, interactive virtual space. Harm like this to Epic’s flagship app cannot be calculated in damages.

Stephen Warwick:

New estimates from Buy Shares have revealed that Epic Games’ spat with Apple could cost it in the region of $26 million a month in lost revenue whilst Fortnite is banned from iOS.


10 Comments RSS · Twitter

Sounds like Phil’s feelings are hurt.

I thought Phil was “kicked upstairs” to that weird “Apple Fellow” position? Interesting timing on Phil’s “up and out” promotion given the timing of all this.

So is it Greg Joswiak “having the feels” now or am I mistaken?

[…] Apple terminated Epic’s main developer account. Apple’s letter to Epic says that it is banned from reapplying for one […]

Apple is now suing Epic for lost revenue !!!


I'm gobsmacked. They want the court to proclaim their suzerainity over third party developers. From beggar requesting developers to consider the Mac again, they've become worse than Microsoft. I truly hope some of these antitrust cases will break them up like AT&T, into hardware, software, cloud services, and sales of third party IP. Clearly a single entity can no longer can be trusted to own the whole stack.

It sound like a standard clause to prevent a banned developer from just signing up again. Actually, I’m very surprised a banned developer can re-apply at all.

I don’t think that this really changes the equation. If Epic were to publicly state they wanted to return to the status quo, there’s no way Apple would insist on the year wait. And there is no reason for a court to grant any more than that.

(I just posted this in an older thread, but I'm cross posting it again here because it seems more relevant)

Tim Apple frequently makes me livid. Latest case in point:

"Apple has added Smart App Banners to the latest iOS 14 beta that prompt Safari users to open its News app when viewing the website of a publisher that is part of Apple News+."


THIS IS SLEAZY!!! Isn't this the kind of low-brow self-serving built-in-app-promoting advertising that we used to bash Microsoft for?

And didn't Apple itself used to be the antithesis of this?

This kind of garbage is why I hate Tim Apple. And it's why iOS is not a fair platform (no matter how much Tim Cook lies to Congress) because Apple is constantly leveraging built-in advantages that it would NEVER permit any 3rd party developer to use. Can you imagine if Google tried to do such a thing on every Safari website view that could be redirected to Google News? Can you imagine if Instagram hooked into your personal photo feed and popped up a "view photos like this in Instagram!" notification every time you opened your Camera Roll? What if every time you opened an email there was a popup to "Message this person on Facebook!" Of course not! It's absurd!

Old Unix Geek, the problems with that are:

1. Owning the whole stack is the only way anyone has found to make this profitable. You simply can't develop something like macOS/iOS and sell it on its own. NeXT tried exactly that. So did Be. Even Android didn't take off until Google bought them. There's only been one successful consumer OS company in history, and Microsoft accomplished that by (a) having IBM build hardware for them and be dumb about it at just the right moment, and then (b) abusing their monopoly power -- and even they are trying to get into the hardware business now.

2. Breaking up AT&T didn't stick. The pieces just merged with each other after a couple years. They even renamed themselves back to "AT&T". It's true we're better off today because we have 4 major telecom providers in the USA-- wait, a couple of them just merged, and we're back down to 3. The US government simply lacks the will to be serious about anti-trust in tech. Or consumer protection. Or worker protections. They've been strongly pro-corporation for a while.

So my predictions are:

1. The government isn't going to break up Apple -- Apple has too much power, the government doesn't want to break up financially successful companies, and Apple has always been the counterbalance to Microsoft (and now Google). All they have to say is: "If you're afraid of abusive monopolies, imagine what the industry would look like without a [competitive] macOS or iOS!"

2. If Apple is broken up, the pieces will re-merge within 5 years -- and we'll have accomplished nothing except paying a bunch of lawyers and confusing a bunch of users.

3. If for some reason the Baby Apples fail to merge, they'll die off -- and we'll be left with far fewer choices of desktop and mobile operating systems. Not just "one fewer", but in many cases "one total", since without needing to support macOS/iOS, I'm sure many companies will shut down the alternative non-Windows/Android mechanisms which made it possible for Linux users to access those systems, too.

@Sam, you are right that breaking up AT&T, or Standard Oil, only sticks if politicians want it to stick. Oddly, polarisation in the US might provide a glimmer of hope at the moment: if the tech giants continue to censor "conservative viewpoints", Trump and Co might decide to hit back.

There's also an EU angle: the EU has a lot less incentive to keep the US giants happy than the US government presumably has. Perhaps once it has dumped the UK, the EU will demonstrate a bit more of a backbone towards the US. (The UK being a lost cause since it wants to ingratiate itself to the US to get a (less mediocre) trade deal). European countries keep trying to pass laws to restrict big-tech's exploitation of their data (GPDR, bans on Google News, etc), and that could increase.

The time to strike would be now, since it's clear Apple will continue to accrue power, and if it's politically hard to break them up today, it will be even harder tomorrow, despite the fact that Apple's tightening of its control over its platforms, should weaken its argument that it is a counterbalance to anything.

Although I doubt Linux will disappear entirely, since it's too valuable to corporate customers, you might be right that most consumers will be forced into using "app consoles", as Stallman predicted. No doubt the noisier Apple fans of the future will rejoice in the lack of malware, and improper reading materials.


I've been rereading 1984. It's surprising how many parallels there are to today, what with Amazon microphones preinstalled in rental apartments, internet searches distorting results, and so on. We could very well be on track!

There is absolutely no need to pity Epic. They have unclean hands and cannot be trusted. By their actions they WILLINGLY and KNOWINGLY tried to defraud Apple of agreed upon fees and defrauded their users from being able to update their application on iOS. That they are now in the doghouse is entirely their own doing.

@Ruurd: Whoosh !!!

Leave a Comment