Epic Games lodged a case alleging Apple over the running of the App Store. It claims the store is a cartel that charges exorbitant prices for popular games like Epic's Fortnite. Epic is required by Apple to pay a 30% commission on in-app purchases.
Federal Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers gave unusual closing arguments Monday in the antitrust trial between Epic Games and Apple Inc., roasting both parties' attorneys for a three hour interrogation on what they should and would do to change the Apple App Store.
What Happened in the Trial
App makers and authorities from all over the world are witnessing the hearing, and Gonzalez Rogers has hinted that she may be open to some of the "Fortnite" game creators' claims that Apple abuses its authority of the App Store and harms developers.
The federal judge has said that Apple's earnings from game developers seemed "disproportionate," but on Monday she asked Epic over if there was a way to resolve its issues without pushing Apple to open the iPhone to competing app stores, as Epic has advocated.
That would be a significant change, she said, and "courts don't run businesses." She also mentioned the potential windfall for Epic, whose own plans to launch a rival paying app store were debated during the trial.
She added that "Let's be clear. Epic is here because if relief is granted, it goes from being a multi-billion-dollar company to a multi-trillion-dollar company. But it's not doing it out of the goodness of its heart."
Epic's counsel Gary Bornstein adhered to Epic's initial order, forcing the Apple company to open up the iPhone to competing app stores and stopping developing companies from using the payment system for applications.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, who has led the company's litigation policy and has been present in the proceedings, is "attacking the underlying way that Apple generates sales," according to Gonzalez Rogers. "There's a good case to be made that (Apple) is using these gains to support the whole ecosystem."
Gonzalez Rogers challenged other concerns, such as an Apple law prohibiting developers from marketing ways to circumvent Apple's in-app payment mechanism using email addresses obtained from iPhone customers.
"Apple's hiding of that information in a way that is not directly reflected to the consumer seems to be anticompetitive," he said.
All through the day, Apple's lawyers argued that Epic's broad demands would reduce user choice by making Apple look like the Android system.
The attorney of Apple Veronica Moye said that “Apple wants to keep its product.” Those who need third-party app stores "is free to go out and buy an Android device. The relief requested here is to force Apple to take a competing product off the market."
Finally, the judge would have to sift through 4,500 pages of evidence to reach a verdict, a procedure she estimates will take months.