Epic ratchets up UK antitrust pressure on Apple with new App Store complaint

Posted:
in iOS
Epic Games has renewed its attempt to apply pressure on Apple in the UK, with a new complaint to a competition regulator that supports an ongoing investigation into the App Store.




On March 4, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a probe into Apple, after receiving a number of complaints about the App Store. In an announcement by Epic Games on Tuesday, it was stoking the fire of the investigation, by filing a complaint against Apple.

The CMA investigation is set to determine whether Apple restricts competition and sets "unfair terms" for developers. This includes accusations Apple's market position allowed it to set terms that are "unfair or may restrict competition and choice."

In the new announcement, Epic says it is supporting the CMA investigation into Apple's alleged anticompetitive behavior. Apple's control over the distribution of apps and payment mechanisms "constitute a clear violation of the UK Competition Act of 1998," Epic asserts.

The complaint is also said to illustrate Apple's "monopolistic practices," namely preventing the existence of third-party app marketplaces on Apple platforms, and forcing the use of Apple's own payment mechanism.

"By kneecapping the competition and exerting its monopoly power over app distribution and payments, Apple strips UK consumers of the right to choose how and where they get their apps, while locking developers into a single marketplace that lets Apple charge any commission rate they choose," said Epic Games CEO and founder Tim Sweeney. "These harmful practices lead to artificially inflated costs for consumers, and stifle innovation among developers, many of whom are unable to compete in a digital ecosystem that is rigged against them."

Epic has beenincreasing pressure on Apple in a bid to force it into allowing third-party app stores, the use of alternative payment mechanisms, and other elements that the game developer wants changed. It has done so with a variety of lawsuits, official complaints, and its "Free Fortnite" marketing campaign, in a number of countries around the world.

The complaint seems to be a second attempt by Epic to exert that pressure on Apple in the UK, following an earlier complaint with the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal that failed to take off. While the January complaint followed similar arguments, the tribunal ruled in February that it wasn't able to hear the case at all, due to it being outside its jurisdiction.


Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider," and you'll get latest AppleInsider Podcast. Or ask your HomePod mini for "AppleInsider Daily" instead and you'll hear a fast update direct from our news team. And, if you're interested in Apple-centric home automation, say "Hey, Siri, play HomeKit Insider," and you'll be listening to our newest specialized podcast in moments.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    This guy is going to kill the iPhone as we know it and I don’t mean that in a good way.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 7
    Apple should just ban in-app purchases of any type.
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 7
    I wonder if a future version of IOS that upon installation, the user gets asked... "Do you want to use other App Stores knowing all the risks that it entails?" If you answer 'Yes' then you get a totally open IOS that is very much like Android. Apple will not accept any support calls for that device. The IOS app store is no longer available. If you answer 'No' then you get IOS as we know it now. Epic can setup their own app store and charge what they like. It would be interesting to see what would happen to Epic's finances then. If very few people took up their offer then that would hit them hard financially.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 7
    Epic games is not really helping their case by filing so many complaints and lawsuits.  It is coming across as they are no longer the victims and are the aggressor.  Sure Apple could reduce fees, sure Apple could allow third party payments or stores, but are the consumers actually asking for that?  It is not the consumer watchdogs entities that are “protecting us” but rather clearly a greedy person whom has a vendetta against one of the platforms that helped make Fortnight so popular.  

    As a person that came from Android a phone ago, I like Apples walled garden.  We saw several apps that asked us to go to a “site” to download their APK as they were no longer on the Play Store.  As my phone has become my bank, my main communication device, my web access tool,  and my camera, I have little interest in getting a virus or an app that has ill intent. I even find myself less willing to download from company sites on my Mac, where 10 years ago it was different.  We like the security and that extra review.


    So I say let’s start a new campaign  “Fuk Fortnight, and the Epic douche”
    edited March 30 fordeewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 7
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,111member
    This is one of those situations which doesn't really benefit consumers, it just benefits very large companies that can bankroll their own stores.

    Just imagine all the end user license agreements that every app will need to show, then followed by all the confused customers who can't call apple when they have a mistaken or unusual purchase.

    Now consider the app stores that simply break because the developer can't keep up with Apple's well known advancement/deprecation cycle. Or those which simply stop because there isn't enough profit, their company goes bust/gets bought out, or is trying a new direction.

    Also who defines what's an allowable alternate payment system? That seems like an opportunity to defraud users, or honey-pot their financial data like the good old russian music and movie websites. (All of Mp3 et. al.)

    At the end of the day it's incredibly short-sighted from Epic. Epic believe that if they get their way that everything will stay the same, that Apple will keep offering access to the store to developers for just a fixed price access fee, and that massively popular apps can be downloaded and used from the store without incurring any cost. That's nonsense, Apple would undoubtedly change the terms which will make the entire effort a zero-sum game. Instead of a fixed fee, it could be based on traffic, file size and backups, it could even cost money just to submit a review request - all of these are reasonable fee schedules and completely on par with cloud computing providers. They would also disproportionately cost Epic and similar popular store items. I think sometimes developers overlook how incredibly generous the store is, they just see the parts which incur cost and put a bullseye over them without thinking about the holistic consequences.
    edited March 30 FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 7

    At the end of the day it's incredibly short-sighted from Epic. Epic believe that if they get their way that everything will stay the same, that Apple will keep offering access to the store to developers for just a fixed price access fee, and that massively popular apps can be downloaded and used from the store without incurring any cost. That's nonsense, Apple would undoubtedly change the terms which will make the entire effort a zero-sum game. Instead of a fixed fee, it could be based on traffic, file size and backups, it could even cost money just to submit a review request - all of these are reasonable fee schedules and completely on par with cloud computing providers. They would also disproportionately cost Epic and similar popular store items. I think sometimes developers overlook how incredibly generous the store is, they just see the parts which incur cost and put a bullseye over them without thinking about the holistic consequences.
    I agree. Imagine if Apple were like AWS and charged per item for every service they provide to developers (with a certain amount covered by a "free" tier).

    The way this article outlines it, I don't think Epic have any chance of succeeding with this lawsuit given that Apple's fee is an industry standard rate - they would have to prove collusion between all players in the market.

    Epic seems to just want to find any legal forum they can to promote their message that Apple has so much control over their own products that they can dictate what developers can and can't do. Epic sees this as harmful, as opposed to a useful tradeoff that lets everyday people avoid worrying about the technical complications on their computing devices. People have already voted with their wallets, in significant numbers, and it's hard to argue that most of them did so because Apple metaphorically put a gun to their heads. Developers likewise - you go where the customers are; if it costs too much then walk away. Same thing as with Microsoft in the 1990s; so much free crapware all over the place but if you wanted to sell to the enterprise (where the big money is) then you needed to have a Windows version of your software.

    Epic's arguments are spurious and I don't know how they justify this level of marketing expenditure. With any luck they will be seen in the future as the boy who cried wolf.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 7
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,811member
    I wonder if a future version of IOS that upon installation, the user gets asked... "Do you want to use other App Stores knowing all the risks that it entails?" If you answer 'Yes' then you get a totally open IOS that is very much like Android. Apple will not accept any support calls for that device. The IOS app store is no longer available. If you answer 'No' then you get IOS as we know it now. Epic can setup their own app store and charge what they like. It would be interesting to see what would happen to Epic's finances then. If very few people took up their offer then that would hit them hard financially.
    http://www.fosspatents.com/2021/03/harvard-and-georgia-tech-professors.html
Sign In or Register to comment.