back to article Day 3 of the Apple vs Epic trial: What actually is an iPhone anyway?

The legal spat between Epic Games and Apple entered somewhat philosophical territory on Wednesday as the battling sides debated over whether the iPhone legitimately constitutes a general-purpose computing device, or is merely a locked-down platform with a specific purpose, such as a games console. Epic Games, which has alleged …

  1. mihares

    BS, BS everywhere

    “ nobody would purchase the Xbox with plans to use it like an open-ended platform.”

    That’s sounds like a challenge… should I accept it? Or just search the internetZ for someone who already did it? Or both?

    The difference between “locked down”, special purpose computers and general purpose ones is essentially the number of bugs you need to exploit to make them do what you want.

    Although I concede that running a text editor on a jailbroken smart toilet is not the most practical thing…

    1. Antonius_Prime
      Joke

      RE: BS, BS everywhere

      "Although I concede that running a text editor on a jailbroken smart toilet is not the most practical thing…"

      Yes, but until someone ports DOOM to the Port-a-potty, is it really even a platform at that point? :D

      (Can we get a DOOM Guy icon?)

    2. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: BS, BS everywhere

      "Although I concede that running a text editor on a jailbroken smart toilet is not the most practical thing…"

      You might as well because we have so many artificially locked down landfill iPhones to wipe our butts on instead, we are well catered for in that department.

    3. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge
      Linux

      Re: BS, BS everywhere

      Agreed, You CAN install linux onto most xboxes (and then they are alot more general purpose than a phone or tablet). I'd disagrre about the "general-purpose devices (a category she described as including Windows PCs and iPhones)"

      An iPhone is there primarily to make phone calls, it's had a bunch of other things bolted onto it, but general purpose computing, NO. An xbox can play music, watch video's etc so how is it that different in scope from a phone / tablet?

      Apple lock down the use and software that is available

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BS, BS everywhere

        Yeah, the iPhone is a general purpose computing device, sorry.

        They may have allowed Cydia to be strangled, if not to death, at least irrelevancy, but they proved IN COURT no less that people could use one for general purpose computing. It has all of the parts needed. Frankly even an apple watch could be. Want a headless workstation? just load up a bluetooth driver for a mouse and keyboard, and fire up the airplay interface for your sound and audio.

        Microsoft's opinion on this isn't worth much, as they have been trying to undermine jailbreaking, running a custom os, or alternate app stores just like Apple. Unfortunately for them, the first sale doctrine is still a thing. If the hardware was only available as a rental, they might have a leg to stand on, but they sell them.

        So if they sold it to me, and I am the owner of it, they don't have a good claim to tell me what I can or can't do with it beyond copying their code off of it and re-distributing it. They certainly don't have any legal authority to demand a cut of anything I manage to side load onto it. So by forcing me to only use their app store, they are using technical and market forces to control a market, engage in price fixing, rent seeking, and shut out competitors. Apple and Google are doing essentially the same thing.

        1. john 103

          Re: BS, BS everywhere

          Fun fact

          Cydia is named after Cydia pomonella - the apple worm...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BS, BS everywhere

        So what's an iPad?

  2. ThomH Silver badge

    This is supposed to go on for another three weeks, right?

    Apple's iPad marketing slogan seems to get to the nub of this argument: "Your next computer is not a computer." So it's not a computer. But also it is. Problem solved.

    Snark aside, I don't own an iPad other than a superannuated iPad 2 that acts as my iTunes/etc to Bluetooth bridge for the living room precisely because it can't do a whole bunch of general computing tasks. For me it's the uselessness for software development. But they run Photoshop and Office and probably 95% of the rest of what anybody else wants from a computer and in that regard are very different from consoles.

    I could see more of an argument if this were just about iPhones but Apple's choice to try to turn the iPad into a professional work tool may have tipped the scales.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: This is supposed to go on for another three weeks, right?

      Yet, as I seem to say repeatedly, the iPad (even the iPad2) was an excellent content creation device.... for the right sort of content.

      My wife wrote a book on one, using a bluetooth keyboard obviously, but it was an excellent device for that, easy to have a zero distraction writing environment that was extremely portable and lasted all day without batting an eyelid (which was leagues ahead of any laptop at the time, and still is leagues ahead of the vast majority).

      Not great for software development, or video rendering or whatever doesn't mean that it's no good for everyone.

      For most people it does enough that they probably don't need a general purpose computer, but that speaks more to most people's needs than the definition of a general purpose computer.

      1. rcxb Silver badge

        Re: This is supposed to go on for another three weeks, right?

        You can write text on an iPad? And you only need a couple accessories to do it? Wow! IOS is getting close to parity with typewriters and dumb terminals...

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: This is supposed to go on for another three weeks, right?

          Or use voice regog to type your words for you, partner uses that & its great (according to partner, I have never tried as don't have any fruity devices, opposite of partner!)

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: This is supposed to go on for another three weeks, right?

          "You can write text on an iPad? And you only need a couple accessories to do it? Wow! IOS is getting close to parity with typewriters and dumb terminals..."

          So a keyboard is now two accessories?

          You can type directly, but if you're going to be doing serious typing then a real keyboard is required, but that's the same on all devices. The iPad has the advantage over a laptop in that they aren't tied together by a hinge which inevitably puts on or the other in a rather unergonomic position.

          Comparing an iPad with a typewriter is rather silly, an iPad is far more portable, and doesn't run out of paper... as for the dumb terminal... what exactly are you connecting to? The idea is to have a low distraction environment. The WiFi was often switched off, so no alerts (except local calendar/alarms), just you, a cup of coffee and the nascent book.

          1. rcxb Silver badge

            Re: This is supposed to go on for another three weeks, right?

            So a keyboard is now two accessories?

            No, that's just one. But if you're not holding the iPad, you probably need something to stand it up, too.

            if you're going to be doing serious typing then a real keyboard is required, but that's the same on all devices.

            Which is why all other devices include a keyboard.

            as for the dumb terminal... what exactly are you connecting to?

            Local/offline mode. Just echoes what you type to screen. Hit the Print Screen button to output it to the connected printer.

            The idea is to have a low distraction environment. The WiFi was often switched off

            That works well on a laptop, too. Also see typewriter and dumb terminal comment above.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: This is supposed to go on for another three weeks, right?

              So a keyboard is now two accessories?

              No, that's just one. But if you're not holding the iPad, you probably need something to stand it up, too.

              I never consider a case an accessory, since all my devices end up in one - phones, laptops, you name it. Or you can normally find a convenient wall or menu holder to lean an iPad up against.

              Which is why all other devices include a keyboard.

              Which, by virtue of being attached to the screen, is always in a pretty bad position for one or the other. I believe I mentioned that earlier. In fact I don’t use my laptop keyboard at all, preferring to use an external one, specifically for ergonomic reasons.

              But even an iPad and keyboard combined are lighter than, and last *much* longer than, a laptop. And since they easily fit in a handbag, there is no need for a separate laptop bag, or a heavy power supply... (a decade later and there are a couple of laptops that last as long).

              You’re now comparing an iPad to a mains powered dumb terminal, probably with a CRT, and an attached printer... have you completely lost the thread of the conversation?

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: This is supposed to go on for another three weeks, right?

        Other half likes all thigs apple, but said when current iMac gives up the ghost, next "computer" will be an iPad as that now does all that is required (partner now retired, so not the same need for hefty apps such as photoshop, office apps (o365 work subscription meant mac versions of office installed and used when working ))

        So fully agree that a "non computer" device (in the cliched view of a computer) is fine for lots of peoples needs

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: This is supposed to go on for another three weeks, right?

      I have belatedly watched "Johnny English 2",

      SPOILER ALERT

      he uses an iPad like a discus / frisbee to knock the villain unconscious.

      End\ SPOILER ALERT

      Apple cannot have it both ways, either the iPhone / iPad is a general purpose computing device, or it isn't. The volume of sales of iPhones / iPads is high enough, people generally only get one personal mobile phone (unless you are Stephen Fry who seems to have at least 6), which means that there is some sort of monopolistic activity going on.

      I await the result of the trial with academic interest as I long ago gave up playing computer games after I realised I was dreaming in 'Taipei'.

  3. Antonius_Prime

    The real reason isn't Epic V Apple...

    The reason they took on Apple isn't to tackle the App Store's policy.

    It's because it's the smallest market share for Fortnite. If they can crack that, and / or set precedent, they can prise the same 30% off of MS grasp and whatever Sony charges.

    (Survey is way out of date, but gives a general idea,,,)

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/882135/leading-devices-used-play-fortnite/

  4. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge
    Coat

    whether the iPhone legitimately constitutes a general-purpose computing device

    iPhone is named thus, because...

    iWatch is named thus, because...

    iPad, iPod sounds more generic.

    Galaxy sounds like the ultimate universal device (oh dear, am I taking sides? Cue downvotes). iMac is named thus because I can escape in one...--->>

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: whether the iPhone legitimately constitutes a general-purpose computing device

      iWatch isn't named thus.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: iWatch isn't named thus.

        iWhoopsie and

        iWillTryToCheckMyFactsBeforePostingInFuture

        In my defence publications such as MacWorld refer to it as an iWatch eg.,

        Latest iWatch news, reviews and features from the Apple ...

        https://www.macworld.co.uk › iwatch

        All the rumours about the Apple iWatch including the Apple iWatch release date, the Apple iWatch price, iWatch news, and any iWatch leaks. Keep up to date ...

  5. BrownishMonstr

    Perhaps Apple should sell the iPhone and iPads at a loss and they can then justify a 30% cut.

    Sorry, silly joke.

    1. razza

      43.5% on iPad (approx). Sits well with a $10 coffee.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not locked down to the app store

    The big difference with XBox and other consoles is you can still walk into a shop and pick up a game on a disc. The app store isn't the only way to source software.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not locked down to the app store

      But Microsoft still take their 30% cut on that sale

      1. carlos_c

        Re: Not locked down to the app store

        Ever heard of CEX.......hardly ever bought a new game for my sons Xbox....now try that with an iphone/ipad

      2. Come to the Dark Side

        Re: Not locked down to the app store

        Only if you're buying new. You can quite happily resell/gift your physical console media to someone else, for whatever price you like and they will be able to use it on their console.

  7. anonanonanonanonanon

    Don't buy an iPhone Maybe?

    Almost every story here on el reg about Apple will have both the article and the commenters go on about Apple's walled garden and how they would never buy them. Or that Apple users just like to buy shiny gadgets, whatever.

    Point is, it's pretty well known that Apple's iDevices are restricted, and some people, myself included, are quite happy about that.

    While I'm not happy about the 30% cut apple takes, they don't really earn it anymore, the app store is full of suspect apps, I'm less happy that these suspect apps could free reign to make it even worse by implementing their own deceptive in app purchase mechanisms.

    1. razza

      Re: Don't buy an iPhone Maybe?

      "Apple's iDevices are restricted, and some people, myself included, are quite happy about that."

      Oh, that sent a shiver down my spine as Aldous Huxley's spirit rose from the grave.

      Never, never be happy with a walled garden. It's a prison. Have you stopped trying to look over the walls yet to see the big world? What walls?

      The early days of the internet were full of those - I worked for the biggest - AOL for a SHORT time.

      30% on apps. 43.5% on ipad. Lordy lord. Come on, wake up and smell that $10 Starbucks. Ah, but you do get to buy a little slice of misguided snobbery though. Looking down your noses at us! I can feel it through T'internet now as I type.

      Here's the Apple rule: If I'm not paying, I'll have it.

      1. anonanonanonanonanon

        Re: Don't buy an iPhone Maybe?

        `Never, never be happy with a walled garden. It's a prison. Have you stopped trying to look over the walls yet to see the big world? What walls?`

        Not even on your own house? Like I say, don't buy a house with a wall if you don't want one, it's not my computer, it's my iDevice.

        And I very much feel it's all the techies looking down on me and the snobbishness is strong with this post, as with most who despise Apple devices, it's very much look at all this software? Which one is bad you ask, you can just go read the source code for absolutely all of them, isn't it wonderful, yes sure, you have to have extensive experience with computers to understand it, and plenty of time, but everyone does, right?

        1. razza

          Re: Don't buy an iPhone Maybe?

          "Not even on your own house?"

          OK, 1998 has called asking for its AOL back. Walled gardens are useful at the beginning. Apple's mobile App Store was a revelation in mobile internet of the time. It built the foundations of non-HTML mobile internet. But like AOL, that model's time has passed from being the only and dominant one.

          If you are happy, that's all that matters. Turn aside those sniggering forum posters with their inverted snobbery - they're just jealous! It makes no difference, really, except to your bank balance.

          As mentioned above - Mr Bean used an iPad. It's over... walk away. Even the "i" in their naming they nicked from iMode.

          Yeah, the are great. But thank goodness there are those who can see through the marketing and demystify the self-created aura of oneness obtainable only through selected outlet channels, and yours for just £1000 - or that's just $60 a month for x years on tick-style. Techies are not really blaming the non-techies as those non-techies have - like us all - a soft spot for shiny shiny new! We are worse than non-techies!

          Your money - ur spend as u choose. But, please, remember, it cost you 30% more than it should of done and that has mostly paid for the marketing department's latte skinny puke-inducing foul soy-milk based hot beverage at $10 a sot - $0.90 to cover overhead costs etc, and the rest buys you faux smugness.

          My GREATEST fear for my future money making is that Apple release a properly cheap device.

          1. anonanonanonanonanon

            Re: Don't buy an iPhone Maybe?

            Just carry on with the arrogance, cheap devices are either cheap or you're the product, sure, *you'll* know to remove all the bloat and adware, but you represent a tiny majority of buyers, no one selling a mass market device is banking on you buying it, they're planning on making just as much margin as Apple. Apple releasing a cheap device would be a signal that they're just going to sell all the data they have.Everyone competes, Apple make high price products that cost me less time than cheaper ones I have to sanitize.

          2. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Don't buy an iPhone Maybe?

            Your money - ur spend as u choose. But, please, remember, it cost you 30% more than it should of done and that has mostly paid for the marketing department's <drivel>

            Except that flagship products from fruitiness and others are price comparable... certain accessories are ridiculous, but the actual devices are usually not badly priced. They just done enter the low end market.

            My GREATEST fear for my future money making is that Apple release a properly cheap device.

            That not a market they have any interest in tackling, they bottom out at what other places look on as high-mid range.

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