Finally! Best of luck Fortnight, you'll need it against the infinite pockets of Apple's legal function.
Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, filed a lawsuit against Apple on Thursday accusing the iGiant of illegally monopolizing iOS app distribution and app payments. The game biz earlier in the day announced a promotional initiative called Fortnite Mega Drop to allow Fortnite players to purchase in-game virtual currency and in- …
This should be neatly settled by 2026 or so.
BTW Google also pulled the app from their app store - if Fortnite was smart they would have only done this in Apple's hoping to put some pressure on them from hardcore Fortnite fans who might be willing to switch to Android to get it. This way they are cut off from them both (other than Android sideload) Maybe that was the point though, that Apple and Google may not be a monopoly, but they are a duopoly and when they have the same rules you are locked out of mobile gaming entirely.
If this goes against Apple/Google I wonder what happens to stuff like Sony and XBox and their much tighter control over games for their platforms?
Plus they're dedicated gaming computers, which though you can download some apps, are still used very largely for gaming.
Smartphones on the other hand are dedicated call and messaging computers, but I would confidently say they aren't largely used for those functions. Web browsing, gaming, and various other things are also used on these.
Although possibly the largest single brand sold in the UK, iOS had a bit under 25% last year, Android as a whole, over 70% but spread across the various brands. Unless there are any figures for this year, no single supplier is a monopoly in the UK as yet but Apple are perilously close to reaching that threshold, which can trigger all sorts of red flags and closer watching of their antics by TPTB.
BTW Google also pulled the app from their app store - if Fortnite was smart they would have only done this in Apple's hoping to put some pressure on them from hardcore Fortnite fans who might be willing to switch to Android to get it.
Fortnite started out as a side-load on Android and had no shortage of players. It's only relatively recently that they joined the Play Store. You can still download the Android apk from the Epic website.
Which is probably why they're asking for the iOS issue to be handled separate to Google Play.
Apple is a much more clear-cut monopoly. Google are a bit trickier since it's perfectly possible to sideload or use other stores, but Google have made a song-and-dance about "anything not from the Play Store is malware". It's not the same sort of monopoly as Apple have, but they're still throwing their weight around to disparage competitors, in a manner that Epic would describe as unreasonable to the point of illegality. And they're trying to shame both over their 30% cut from store sales.
Nobody would care if Apple were taking 5% for providing the Store platform and CDN infrastructure. Claiming 30% is - and always has been - a bit of a pisstake.
Apple has been behaving like a monopoly for decades (remember the Mac clones), and they have always been able to get away with it by virtue of claiming they were part of a larger industry. Thus they called macs PC's when the monopoly like behavior was questioned in the 1980-1990's, even though the software environment was totally incompatible, but marketed them as if they were somehow a different product. It is their game plan - be unique enough to be able to build a walled garden, but not unique enough to meet the threshold for being a different product and thus having enough market share to meet the criteria as a monopoly.
Right now, Google and Apple are acting like monopolies (duopoly), but using each other as a defense against being considered a monopoly in smart phone software. I don't see Epic winning, but I wish they would. Maybe then the IOS software environment would be freed up from Apple's rules, and I could actually get third party apps on my iphone that didn't have the exact same bugs as Apple's own apps.
Epic simply have to prove that the context is iOS. If they can win that argument then Apple lose.
It will take a decade as they'll appeal all the way - Apple can afford to drag it out, so they will.
Whether Epic have deep enough pockets remains to be seen.
Google are likely safe from this argument because the Play store is not a monopoly in the context of Android. Other Android app stores are available - just discouraged.
Although most monopolies law is rather loose. Even 30-40% of a market can be considered a monopoly, if it can be justified. And of course it’s not the monopoly itself that’s illegal, but the abuse of it. So even if Apple can somehow successfully claim that the market is all smartphones, even though iOS obviously can’t use Android software - they’re still enough of the total market to be declared monopoly abusers.
The fact that Fortnite were chucked out of both the market leading stores on the same day, and both charge exactly the same price, pretty much proves their case. But this is the law, and it’s never that simple. Or quick.
the stage is set for an almighty legal shootout.
I would imagine that Apple and Google would try to get the cases conjoined and then they could fight Epic together.
A wonderful time to be a staff lawyer (on all sides)
For the rest of us... sit back, get the popcorn in and see how this plays out.
I expect that the likes of Spotify will join in on Epic's side.
I hope whoever loses has a viable 'Plan B' as someone is going to [see icon]
"I would imagine that Apple and Google would try to get the cases conjoined and then they could fight Epic together.""
Well, that would be intereseting, wouldn't it? Right now, Google and Apple can play the card of "we're part of a bigger market, so how can either of us have a monopoly?"
Now I'm no lawyer, but I imagine that if the cases were joined in such a manner, when combined with the near simultaneous kick-out of Fortnite from both the official app ecosystems, could potentially be argued as a cartel action, immediately destroying the "part of a bigger market" defence.
Definitely popcorn time...
Epic is right – there's no technical reason for Apple to force in-app payments on developers, it's all just greed disguised as security policy.
Their commission is exorbitant considering a card payment processor takes just 1-2% commission.
It's extremely brave for Epic to go against both Apple and Google at the same time considering the loss of earnings and lack of alternative for users, but probably there's a strategic reason for thes and it's not just a coincidence. After all, they had adverts, websites and lawyers ready for this moment - they knew it was coming.
Amazon tried to fight the App/Play Stores with their own weapons (alternative app store for Android, blocking competitors' products in their store, blocking their services on iOS) but eventually had to give in. So unfortunately the odds seem to be against Epic who have less leverage.
In-app payments I'm fine with being forced through the store - it makes it quicker and easier for the users as they don't need to sign up again and add credit card details to ReallySecureHonestStore.com™
What I don't believe is right is taking 30% of those purchases. 30% of the app, well okay, they did handle the store and distribution for you. For an in-app credit purchase of say, £10, how exactly did they provide £3 of value? These should either be a way lower percentage, capped to a certain amount or better a flat amount regardless of purchase (given the effort is the same).
That was my take away from this article as well. First time i've seen it happen.
30% does seem like extortion but the tricky thing I find with all this (play store as well) is they did basically make it the cost of using/selling things on their store. Most retail sales wholesale price is 50-70% of the retail price, if you remember what a retail store was.
As already stated by others Android doesn't lock you in so yea it's leaning on monopoly in that case. I just feel a bit 50/50 on it all even more tricky with the whole digital/physical purchase distinction.
Don't forget that the likes of Tesco, Asda etc will often charge a food maker money to display their wares in stores. This is before the supermarket pays for the stock that it buys and later sells. It is an upfront payment. Don't pay and we don't take your product no matter how good and tasty it is or if we do, it is only in 1 store and in the most underused part of that store. The 'mob' can't lose.
The more you pay, the bigger the display you get.
That's modern capitalism folks. Everyone pays all the time.
As far as I can tell from Apple's Ts&Cs, there is no block on selling features for an iOS app outside of the Apple Store, but you cannot sell for less than you do in the Apple Store. You also can't tell people that there is an alternative payment option within the app or any connected marketing (you can't have a link in the app, or the Apple Store description text, to your website where you could purchase the same thing at the same price.) That appears to include selling the Android version of the same thing.
So Apple say Epic are breaking the rules by discounting the purchases (and advertising it). If that's not the definition of 'anti-competitive practices' then I don't know what is...
One approach (which is probably what most smaller developers do) is use Apple's pricing tiers to ensure that there is still profit after Apple take their cut, and then enjoy the greater profit when the features are bought outside of the Apple walled garden if they can somehow surreptitiously persuade users to do that...
"Ironic that the company that has made a reputation for buying up exclusive PC rights to popular games, forcing people to buy them from the Epic store or go without, are now whining about another company having a monopoly on their own platform."
If only I could somehow install another game platform on my PC, so I didn't need to use Epic.
Your argument just ran out of Steam.
You realise that the other game platform wouldn't have that game that Epic bought exclusivity for, right?
You realise this was all done to avoid having to actually compete against Steam - and therefore actually having to make a decent product or do something that helps us - the consumers. I would like competition between marketplaces - to encourage cheaper games, better features etc., but that's a fight that Epic is scared to go into; hence the exclusivity deals.
It was and is a horrible practice, that should not be encouraged.
I like Steam. It's a way for me to buy games for linux, and with their investment in proton I can buy a bunch of old Windows games and play them too. The regular sales mean I can pick up pretty much everything I want on the cheap.
Epic are trying to buy their way in and build market share with exclusive deals. Most of them are titles I don't care for, and wouldn't buy at full price anyway, so it doesn't affect me. (It doesn't do linux stuff either, so it really doesn't affect me!)
Having an online marketplace to buy this stuff is a good thing as far as I'm concerned, as I'd otherwise miss out.
Oh boy, you guys are soo late on that one. We've been in 1984 since the 1970s, when Echelon was created.
When the Internet became ubiquitous, the NSA upgraded our 1984 status by tapping all the calls under the excuse of terrorism.
We've been in 1984 since practically my birth, and we're not getting out of it any time soon.
Obvious icon is obvious.
When I read about their cheaper non-Apple, non-Google payment option yesterday on various gaming sites I did wonder how long before they were thrown out of both stores. I'm glad to see it did happen and that Epic have to abide by the same rules as I do despite thinking that they are special snowflakes because they made a ridiculous pile of cash from Fortnite. Epic have been throwing their weight atound recently, their timed exclusives are damaging the PC games market and its nice to see them get their knuckles wrapped for once.
The app stores (Apple & Google) are useful for app creators as handles all the visibility / install / update side of things
For small creators, the payment system is great - you don't have to roll your own (with all the risk of something going wrong such as "cash" thefts) and if anything goes horribly wrong on payments Apple / Google sort out refunds etc as its system under their control. In return they take a hefty chunk, but you don't have cash handling risks
If you are a massive company like Epic then you have resources to do your own bulletproof payment system - so, unlike small creators, it's really a pain how much of your cash they skim off as you don't need that "safety net" of cash handling that is great for a lone dev... So, the likes of Epic really do not want Apple / Google taking such a big cut as they dont need the safety net of Apple / Google acting as financial handling safety net.
Setting aside the question of how fair it may or may not be for Apple to take a 30% cut of everything, it isn't as though Epic wasn't aware of this when they signed-up for an Apple developer account. It's right there in the Ts&Cs... I mean for fuck's sake, *I* knew about it and I'm fucking nobody.
If they didn't like those terms, they didn't *have* to develop an iOS version of their game; nobody forced them into that ecosystem. After all, iOS only accounts for (at best) 25% of the global smartphone market - practically peanuts to be honest.
The did. And the speed at which they sued indicates they knew exactly what would happen. But they had to put their apps on the stores to have standing to challenge in court if those rules are onerous and therefore unenforceable. Only try this trick if you are prepared to dump a lot of money into your law firm.
They're both as bad as each other
both require use of their payment platform (if you wnat to be in their store)
both take 30% for one off purchases
both take 30% for 1st year of subscriptions and 15% there after
both are members of a cartell to flece joe public (as app-developers pass on the cost)
The only difference i can see, is in Android, you have the option to not use google play, in iOS you dont
I have dealt with payment processors for a number of years including ones that handle subscriptions for adult sites etc. And even they don't charge as much as 30% per transaction, you are looking at 8 to 15% for high risk sites. So what value are app developers getting for the 30% Apple and Google are taking for their cut as Paypal can make money charging only around 3% fee for handling payments?
It's payment processing, plus hosting, an entry in the catalogue, potential promotion. Not saying it's right - we all know it's a big fat fee for access to Apple customers, but to be fair it is more than payment processing.
I wonder what point companies like Epic will stop calling this a monopoly and accept it as a cost of doing business. 15-20% maybe? Epic themselves are charging 12% on their own store.
I can't see Epic winning against Apple. There are countless examples of middle men in many industries, and it's not illegal or monopolistic. Remember when CD prices were extortionate, and out of the £13.99 shop price, artists were getting about £1.50 or less. I would have some sympathy with Epic if they weren't in the app store business themselves on PC, paying developers for 12 month exclusivity.
The more interesting case is Microsoft attacking Apple for their cloud gaming policies in the App Store. I think Apple is on shaky ground there - the argument of not being able to verify each game doesn't hold water. Check them for what? They aren't running locally. But again, Microsoft has a platform-exclusive store on the Xbox and would they allow a cloud gaming service from Sony, Apple or Google? No way. So if Microsoft pushes it against Apple, it could backfire on them.
I am no defender of Apple or 30% shakedowns, but this all sounds very hypocritical.
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