Epic vs. Apple takes new turn as 34 US states & DOJ side with 'Fortnite' maker

Posted:
in iOS edited January 28
Attorneys general for 34 states and the District of Columbia have told an appeals court that Apple continues to "stifle competition" with its monopoly on app distribution via the App Store.

Still from Epic Games
Still from Epic Games "Free Fortnite" video


The Epic Games vs Apple lawsuit saw a ruling in 2021 that chiefly sided with Apple, but the appeals process is continuing. Now the 35 attorneys general have submitted a joint statement into the appeal, backing Epic.

According to Reuters, the joint letter was led by the state of Utah, and joined by Colorado, Indiana, Texas, and more.

"Apple's conduct has harmed and is harming mobile app-developers and millions of citizens," the states said. "Meanwhile, Apple continues to monopolize app distribution and in-app payment solutions for iPhones, stifle competition, and amass supracompetitive profits within the almost trillion-dollar-a-year smartphone industry."

The United States Department of Justice has also filed a letter. Notably, it's not signed by Jonathan Kanter, the assistant attorney general. Kanter used to be the lead attorney for the Coalition for App Fairness.

Alongside the attorneys general, Reuters reports that activist groups and academics have been filing legal arguments in support of the developer of "Fortnite."

Key to the states' argument is that the court decided that Apple's non-negotiable contracts with developers were not covered by antitrust law. Epic Games itself made similar claims when it began filing its appeal on January 20, 2022.

"Paradoxically, firms with enough market power to unilaterally impose contracts would be protected from antitrust scrutiny," continued the attorneys general letter, "precisely the firms whose activities give the most cause for antitrust concern."

Apple is expected to respond to the appeal in March.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 78
    In 1997, when Michael Dell infamously said Apple should be shut down, and the money given to the shareholders, the company was not only on its deathbed, but also completely irrelevant and superfluous. Who needed a Mac with a PowerPC when the ENTIRE WORLD ran on Windows 95 and Intel? What would you have said back then had I told you that, 25 years later, Apple would be the biggest and most profitable company in the world? So much so that 34 states would want to regulate it as a monopoly lol?!
    maximararetrogustomwhiteBeatsbaconstangCheeseFreezewatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 78
    List all the states so people can contact their representatives. Actually do something about this BS.
    Or go on your state gov website and look at pending legislation!
    docbburkbshankmaximararetrogustoGeorgeBMaclavanderfieldspscooter63baconstangBeatsspliff monkey
  • Reply 3 of 78
    „harm citizens”?? Get an Android phone! Nobody forces anyone to have an iPhone.

    Totes ridic.
    jas99bshankJFC_PAmaximararob55GeorgeBMacDnykjpRfC6fnBsbaconstangBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 78
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,072member
    I have to say it—I think the primary motivation for this weird AG political fixation on the App Store is corruption and greed, pure and simple.  The 0-30% App store commission is not on par with the corporate abuses of cigarette smoking or narcotic abuse so what gives?

    Outside of a few developers, Apple haters and Epic fanboys most Americans are concerned about other issues in the technology world, like-

    internet and telephone spam
    misinformation
    malware
    privacy violations
    database hacks


    Hey politicians and AGs why don’t you do something useful, like criminalize and go after companies that leave databases of customer personal information unsecured and get hacked?

    Or engage in privacy violations?

    Or maybe just violent crime?

    Yeah I guess that would involve real work.
    red oakrob55foregoneconclusionradioflyerGeorgeBMacuraharaDnykjpRfC6fnBsthtDogpersonbaconstang
  • Reply 5 of 78
    Make these AGs wear sponsorship patches like nascar drivers.  It shows how out of touch they are with A what’s actually going on, and be what most people actually want.  Personally, I bought the iPhone because it is more secure.  I trust apple with my payment info.  I don’t want to give my credit card info to every or even a few companies who I use their apps.  Let’s be honest, Epic Games is pushing this BS because they want to profit more from kids poor impulse control, getting them to buy loot crates and garbage like that.  So many of my friends kids had gift card for Fortnite, then several months later, regretted spending so much in the game.  They want to spread the billing out over many sources so it’s harder for parents to track, and also easier to hack.  No thank you.   
    JFC_PAmaximararetrogustoGeorgeBMacDnykjpRfC6fnBsmattinozGabyBosap-dogrobaba
  • Reply 6 of 78
    Dogperson said:
    List all the states so people can contact their representatives. Actually do something about this BS.
    Or go on your state gov website and look at pending legislation!
    "Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C. (I’m not taking a position on the controversial question of statehood here), Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah (submitter), Vermont, and Washington" - White House and 35 US states support Epic Games antitrust appeal against Apple

    The crazy thing is the California court could only use state law to claim anything for Epic - on every Federal guideline they found for Apple.  That is why I suspect this might be little more than political pandering as I can't see the Ninth Circuit overruling the California court.  Never mind any legislation could turn into a 'let's open up everything' boondoggle.
    retrogustoGeorgeBMacDogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 78
    Last time I checked, "lack of competition" should result in significantly higher prices for apps overall with a significantly lower selection to choose from overall. Is that the state of the market for iOS versus Android? No. You don't see people making comprehensive comparisons for pricing/selection between the two because there isn't really anything of significance to show. Yes, Android technically allows side loading. No, it doesn't result in a significant benefit per pricing/selection.

    So if you can completely eliminate pricing/selection from having any relevance to a claim of "lack of competition", what's left? Just some 3rd party software companies that want a piece of the action. They don't really view commissions as anticompetitive. They view them as lucrative and want to be able to do the same on iOS. However, iOS isn't their own IP, so they've lobbied the government to force Apple to give them access.  End of story. 
    thtaderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 78
    I feel like there are infinite analogies that show why this whole Epic thing is ridiculous. Here’s one:
    The best nightclub in town charges a cover at the door, and the entertainment and overall experience they provide is the best anywhere. They provide complimentary water and soft drinks, included in the price of admission, and sell alcoholic drinks at industry-standard prices. I own a champagne producer, and I determine that customers would buy more of my champagne if the price were lower, but rather than lower my own wholesale price to the club, I try to legally force the club to reduce their markup, arguing that once a customer pays the cover, the club has a monopoly on all products sold there. 
    foregoneconclusionGeorgeBMacuraharamaximaraaderutterbaconstangGabyBeatsdavenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 78
    Some people STILL want to cry "get an android if you don't like it" when they don't realize the the Playstore has the same issue and these states are going to apply any possible regulation to BOTH stores. Just fanboys thru and thru. Only cry about regulation when it comes to Apple.

    What would you say if your local gas station wasn't regulated? "Just use electric cars if you don't like the outrageous prices gas station owners would surely raise their prices to, or good old fashioned horses!"
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondonCheeseFreeze
  • Reply 10 of 78
    I feel like there are infinite analogies that show why this whole Epic thing is ridiculous. Here’s one:
    The best nightclub in town charges a cover at the door, and the entertainment and overall experience they provide is the best anywhere. They provide complimentary water and soft drinks, included in the price of admission, and sell alcoholic drinks at industry-standard prices. I own a champagne producer, and I determine that customers would buy more of my champagne if the price were lower, but rather than lower my own wholesale price to the club, I try to legally force the club to reduce their markup, arguing that once a customer pays the cover, the club has a monopoly on all products sold there. 
    Even more ridiculous per Epic: their champagne (i.e., Fortnite) was already far more lucrative in other "night clubs". The night club that is claimed to be a monopoly is actually the smallest market for Epic's champagne. 
    retrogustoGeorgeBMacthtdavenwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 78
    Some people STILL want to cry "get an android if you don't like it" when they don't realize the the Playstore has the same issue and these states are going to apply any possible regulation to BOTH stores.
    Define what you mean by "issue". Pricing? Selection? Compared to what? Desktop/laptop operating systems? Consoles? 
    williamlondonbaconstangBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 78
    Great. Now I've gotta contact my AG's office.
    Dogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 78
    Some people STILL want to cry "get an android if you don't like it" when they don't realize the the Playstore has the same issue and these states are going to apply any possible regulation to BOTH stores.
    Define what you mean by "issue". Pricing? Selection? Compared to what? Desktop/laptop operating systems? Consoles? 
    I think that’s a reference to the fact Google Play takes a similar cut from in-app purchases. There’s an ongoing suit and counter-suit between Epic and Google about that. Not sure about its current status.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 78
    Some people STILL want to cry "get an android if you don't like it" when they don't realize the the Playstore has the same issue and these states are going to apply any possible regulation to BOTH stores.
    Define what you mean by "issue". Pricing? Selection? Compared to what? Desktop/laptop operating systems? Consoles? 
    Some people STILL want to cry "get an android if you don't like it" when they don't realize the the Playstore has the same issue and these states are going to apply any possible regulation to BOTH stores.
    Define what you mean by "issue". Pricing? Selection? Compared to what? Desktop/laptop operating systems? Consoles? 
    I think that’s a reference to the fact Google Play takes a similar cut from in-app purchases. There’s an ongoing suit and counter-suit between Epic and Google about that. Not sure about its current status.
    Yep, issue has been about the 30% cut that both app stores are mandating. I get it from both sides. Both stores are ABSOLUTELY entitled to a cut and there's no denying that. What they've accomplished has changed the way we live our lives. However, they've both become such a large economy in and of themselves that they now demand regulation. Far too many developers (both small and large) rely on the the app stores to survive and the fact that it's a duopoly merits the discussion of regulation. I don't agree with Epic of allowing separate app purchases as that would mean that Apple/Google wouldn't get anything in exchange for maintaining their respective platforms. But an almost THIRD of their income is very excessive. And what's even worse is that it's not fair amongst even large companies considering apps like Amazon don't pay ANYTHING outside of the $100 dev fee.
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 78
    These idiots keep talking about harm to consumers. Where’s the harm?

    On The App Store there are countless Apps in thousands of categories that can do almost anything with most of them either free or priced from $0.99-4.99.

    Huge selection to choose from at low prices. That’s literally the opposite of “harm”.
    GeorgeBMacthtforegoneconclusionpscooter63hlee1169baconstangBosawatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 78
    These idiots keep talking about harm to consumers. Where’s the harm?

    On The App Store there are countless Apps in thousands of categories that can do almost anything with most of them either free or priced from $0.99-4.99.

    Huge selection to choose from at low prices. That’s literally the opposite of “harm”.
    Forget the dev, not your problem that app stores take almost a third of that $0.99-4.99, right!? No biggie, just switch to Android where they take .....?
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondon
  • Reply 17 of 78
    uraharaurahara Posts: 623member
    Some people STILL want to cry "get an android if you don't like it" when they don't realize the the Playstore has the same issue and these states are going to apply any possible regulation to BOTH stores. Just fanboys thru and thru. Only cry about regulation when it comes to Apple.

    What would you say if your local gas station wasn't regulated? "Just use electric cars if you don't like the outrageous prices gas station owners would surely raise their prices to, or good old fashioned horses!"
    So why then politics speak only about App Store? 
    Oh, maybe it's because it is more difficult to make a case when you have not only one but two or several stores.
    And don't forget consoles...

    Your example with gas stations is ridiculous. There are so many different brands who offer gas. Well, at least in Europe. And you have an app where you can find the cheapest one. And. yes, I just go  there. If I don't like one (price) - I find another place (gas station).


    williamlondonbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 78
    uraharaurahara Posts: 623member
    ... and amass supracompetitive profits ...
    This is what it's all about. They want a piece of that pie. 
    GeorgeBMacthtbaconstang
  • Reply 19 of 78
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,535member
    Some people STILL want to cry "get an android if you don't like it" when they don't realize the the Playstore has the same issue and these states are going to apply any possible regulation to BOTH stores. Just fanboys thru and thru. Only cry about regulation when it comes to Apple.

    What would you say if your local gas station wasn't regulated? "Just use electric cars if you don't like the outrageous prices gas station owners would surely raise their prices to, or good old fashioned horses!"
    And you are STILL truly clueless. There are regulations to operating a gas station but gas stations prices are not regulated. Gas stations to not form a monopoly. If their prices were regulated, all the gas stations would HAVE to charge about the same price. The reason why all local gas stations seems to charge about the same price is because of competition. If it takes only a few minutes for drivers to find another local gas station that charges $.05 less per gallon, nothing is stopping them from getting gas at the cheaper station. So there's a limit to how much a gas station can charge because of nearby competition, not because prices are regulated. If anything, regulation decreases competition.

    Gas stations that have a mini mart or sell lottery tickets, often sell their gas a little cheaper because it attracts customers to their stations. Gas stations with mini mart makes more profit from selling coffee, lottery tickets, potato chips, candy, hotdogs and other snacks, than from selling gas. Gas stations make average profit of $.02 on a gallon of gas. They can make over $1.00 profit from a large soda. 

    And guess what, consumers that are fed up with high gas prices are buying electric or hybrid cars.  

    Plus, it's not the consumer that are crying about the high prices of apps. Over 70% of the apps on both Apple and Android are free. And it's not the small developers that are crying about the 15% commission. It seems that the biggest cry babies are the multi-million or multi-billion developers that are already making obscene profits selling virtual goods. Obscene profits that they wouldn't be making, if it weren't for Apple iOS or Google Android.    

    DnykjpRfC6fnBsthtwilliamlondonpscooter63mattinozmaximarahlee1169aderutterbaconstangurahara
  • Reply 20 of 78
    urahara said:
    Some people STILL want to cry "get an android if you don't like it" when they don't realize the the Playstore has the same issue and these states are going to apply any possible regulation to BOTH stores. Just fanboys thru and thru. Only cry about regulation when it comes to Apple.

    What would you say if your local gas station wasn't regulated? "Just use electric cars if you don't like the outrageous prices gas station owners would surely raise their prices to, or good old fashioned horses!"
    So why then politics speak only about App Store? 
    Oh, maybe it's because it is more difficult to make a case when you have not only one but two or several stores.
    And don't forget consoles...

    Your example with gas stations is ridiculous. There are so many different brands who offer gas. Well, at least in Europe. And you have an app where you can find the cheapest one. And. yes, I just go  there. If I don't like one (price) - I find another place (gas station).


    Regulations aren't applied to brands, they're applied to industries. Mobile app stores are absolutely an industry now considering how many people rely on them for a livelihood.

    Just like gas station regulations don't apply to ONE BRAND, they apply to the entire industry. Just like all the privacy laws that are being discussed are mentioning Facebook, it's not just them it applies to. But their name is used because of their market recognition. Logical discourse seems to be escaping a large swatch of the fanboys on here. I love Apple and their products, but there's simply no denying that they (along with Google) control all mobile apps on the planet. They can and DO dictate whatever they want, and society has grown far too dependent on mobile apps to allow them to continue on that path.

    And it's not just pricing. A previous developer created a keyboard on the Apple Watch before Apple did. Once apple got around to creating their own keyboard they removed his app from the store. How is that fair!?

    The argument that it's their store simply doesn't work when they've grown so large that everyone (consumers and businesses alike) rely on it for day to day life.
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondonmaximara
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