Sunday, May 16, 2021

Epic v. Apple, Day 8

Adi Robertson (tweet):

Apple says iOS users benefit from a locked-down, curated platform. It rejects “stores within stores” like the Epic Games Store, which could allegedly expose users to harmful and unvetted software. It’s also, however, fighting Epic Games’ claims that there’s no meaningful competition on its platform. So this morning, an Apple attorney grilled one of Epic’s witnesses about a slew of iOS-hosted gaming apps. The move might have helped rebut Epic’s complaints, but it also highlighted just how arbitrary Apple’s policies can seem.


Apple is right to call these apps gaming services, but as testimony continued, it wasn’t clear they make good App Store alternatives.


Apple hammered Epic for offering access to, a storefront featuring adult content. But Steam has a nearly anything-goes policy on porn, and Steam Mobile and Link put those games a few taps away on iOS. Conversely, an App Store executive testified that Roblox user-built “experiences” were fine because they couldn’t sneak new, malicious code onto iPhones. But it’s said cloud gaming services threaten the iPhone’s “safe and trusted” model, despite being essentially just streaming video.

Juli Clover:

As outlined by Bloomberg, there was a discussion about Apple’s rules that prevent app developers from directing users to make purchases outside of the App Store, such as through the web, as an alternative to in-app purchases.

Speaking to Epic expert witness Dr. David Evans, an economist specializing in antitrust, Gonzalez Rogers asked him if whether removing this rule would solve the problems that Epic and other developers have with App Store rules. “If Apple didn’t have these rules, would the problem be solved?” she asked.

Evans said that while it “wouldn’t eliminate the market power that Apple has,” it would “certainly diminish it.”

Leah Nylen:

We’re now switching to Apple’s experts. Apple lawyer Daniel Swanson calls MIT’s Richard Schmalensee, their main economic witness

Adi Robertson:

As an aside, Schmalensee insists “there are other browsers available” on iOS and says he’d be “surprised” if Apple had ever barred them. Which doesn’t really reflect the reality of iOS


Update (2021-05-18): Matthew Humphries (via Hacker News):

Schmalensee also pointed to the US Supreme Court throwing out a lawsuit in 2018 accusing American Express Co. of preventing competition by prohibiting merchants from “steering customers to cards with lower fees.” Gonzalez Rogers didn’t believe the situation was the same and pointed out customers can see signs for other credit card options in stores, whereas in the App Store, “visual indications of options don’t exist in this circumstance.”

Gonzalez Rogers posed a similar question to Epic’s expert witness and economist David Evans. She asked, “If Apple didn’t have these rules, would the problem be solved?” He responded by pointing out that on its own, it wouldn’t be enough. “That wouldn’t eliminate the market power Apple has here, but it would certainly diminish it … it would not be much of a solution at all.”

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