Friday, May 7, 2021

Epic v. Apple, Day 4

Adi Robertson (tweet):

Epic spent the fourth day of trial offering its counter-narrative: the iOS App Store isn’t actually very good. Calling two Apple executives to the stand, Epic’s attorneys took jabs at everything from the update review process to Apple allegedly leaking Marshmello’s Fortnite concert playlist. They pushed Apple to justify its claims about privacy and security by producing hard research demonstrating threats and breaches — which Apple largely didn’t do.


The attorneys spent much of their time trying to catch Apple executives in contradictions, and while they quoted disgruntled developers like the ones above, they rarely delved into the substance of their complaints. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers became audibly irritated with Epic repeatedly producing documents to establish a “state of mind” about the App Store rather than hard facts, since the files would be uploaded for public viewing.


There’s one plausible reason Epic doesn’t have more specific stories: many developers are reportedly scared to criticize Apple. That’s been a running theme in congressional scrutiny of Apple, and Epic has vividly established the consequences of getting banished from the App Store[…]

Nick Statt (tweet):

Matt Fischer, the current App Store vice president who reports directly to longtime executive Phil Schiller, took the stand in Oakland as an Epic witness to answer questions about the App Store business model, as well as its role in the broader iOS operating system.


Fischer provided the company’s first robust rationalization for many of the App Store’s more controversial policies. He called the store "incredibly unique" in the benefits it provides to consumers and developers and steadfastly defended it against claims that Apple overlooks fraud. That, in turn, justifies the commission Apple collects and the restrictions it imposes.


The key takeaway from day four is that the future of this trial could very well hinge on how Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers perceives the true purpose of the App Store. Is it a level playing field designed to protect user privacy and security and take only its fair share? Or is it an increasingly byzantine pillar of Apple’s walled garden, one preoccupied with chasing profit and marred by inconsistently applied and ever-changing rules?


The App Store chief also shed light on how Apple came to the conclusion it would not charge certain app makers a 30% fee if they produced a physical good or service, compared to a digital one like Epic and other game developers.

Nick Statt:

[Fischer] argues Apple didn’t want to take 30% of, say, an Uber ride or Amazon purchase because Apple couldn’t guarantee / had no insight into whether the product or service was delivered as ordered.

I don’t see how it really does for digital content, either.

Adi Robertson:

Epic is now calling Trystan Kosmynka, senior director of marketing at Apple.


“Do you recall an app called Tribe?"

Describing app being “hidden” for being a store within a store, but it’s been live since 2015. So it was on the store for about 3 years before the ERB ruling.


Raising the example of Roblox, which Epic lawyer refers to as a game with a collection of games in it. “I don’t see it that way,” says Kosmynka.


Just to be clear, the argument here is that experiences inside Roblox (which IIRC there are actual game studios devoted to building) are not games, because otherwise Roblox could be arguably similar to the Epic Games Store in being a store inside the App Store.

Sami Fathi:

In the latest batch of emails, the vice president of the App Store, Matt Fischer, claims that Apple features apps made by its competitors “all the time” on the store and rejects the sentiment that it seeks to degrade the exposure of those apps.

According to internal Apple correspondence submitted as evidence by Epic, an Apple employee wrote an email regarding a collection of apps on the App Store that were a part of the VoiceOver collection. In the email, which was forwarded to Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of global accessibility policy, the employee claims that Fisher feels “extremely strong” about not featuring competing apps on the platform.

John Gruber:

Peter Kafka was kind enough to invite me on his podcast this week to talk — a little! — about the Epic-Apple lawsuit that started in court this week. I think I articulated pretty well my takes on what Apple should be allowed to do with the App Store and iOS, and what Apple should do with the App Store and iOS.

See also: Leah Nylen.


5 Comments RSS · Twitter

"many developers are reportedly scared to criticize Apple"

I guess they wouldn't want to wake up to a horse head in their bed.

"the argument here is that experiences inside Roblox are not games"


Old Unix Geek

It's nice to know that sexual partners provided by Tinder and have been pre-vetted by Apple. Is that why App Reviewers' only qualification is the ability to breathe?

For the irony impaired, this comment is tongue in cheek, but it seems to follow logically from statements made by Apple executives recently.

[Fischer] argues Apple didn’t want to take 30% of, say, an Uber ride or Amazon purchase because Apple couldn’t guarantee / had no insight into whether the product or service was delivered as ordered.

Lee asked Andeer to differentiate between why a paid service through Tinder might incur a commission while one for Uber would not. Andeer explained an Uber customer is paying for a non-digital service — a car to show up to their house — while they don’t expect the same return from Tinder, saying that would be a different service, in what appeared to be an insinuation of sex work. from

And my favorite, the qualification required of (early?) App Reviewers being "can breathe" and "from all walks of life" as stated here:

Inconsistencies in one's story is how detectives find the hidden truth.

Old Unix Geek

So apparently this is how Apple checks iPhone binaries:

Some sort of binary signature technology, it seems. Apple just bought the company.

Old Unix Geek

Sorry, they bought SourceDNA in 2016.

BTW, I love this Gruber quote: "How exactly is the $300-ish Nintendo Switch a different thing altogether than a $300-ish iPad or iPod Touch?"

This reads like such blatant willful ignorance that it's difficult for me to understand how somebody would write this and not mean it ironically. This, of course, coming from somebody who genuinely thinks that Android tablets are, in fact, a different thing altogether than an iPad.

But not the Switch, that's the same thing.

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