Picture: REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR
Picture: REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR

San Francisco/Tokyo — Apple plans to argue at a trial that developers and consumers will suffer if Epic Games succeeds in upending how the iPhone maker’s app marketplace is run.

Apple presented a California federal judge on Thursday with a road map of how it will push back against Epic in a high-stakes antitrust fight over how much the App Store charges developers. The filing comes ahead of a May 3 trial before the judge with no jury.

In a summary of its legal arguments, Apple contends the 30% commission it charges most developers isn’t anticompetitive as it’s a typical fee across other mobile and online platforms. Moreover, the company argues taking a share of the revenue is justified by the billions of dollars it has invested in developing the proprietary infrastructure that underpins its App Store, including software development kits and application programming interfaces.

“Epic has benefited handsomely from its contractual relationship with Apple,” the court submission said. “Epic has used Apple’s proprietary SDKs, and thousands of proprietary APIs to develop games for iOS users.”

The games publisher wants no restrictions on apps, whether on technology or content, accessed through the App Store, Apple said in its filing. But Epic overlooks the benefits of Apple’s app review process — such as protecting users’ privacy and controlling malware attacks on the platform — that have helped developers and consumers, Apple said.

The Fortnite maker has earned more than $700m in revenue from iOS customers during the two years that the game was available on the App Store, according to Apple. There is nothing preventing Epic Games from developing web apps for the iPhone and allowing users to access them via the browser, the company added.

Apple also repeats its criticism of how Epic launched the fight, accusing the game maker of mounting a carefully orchestrated public relations campaign — with the hashtag #FreeFortnite — in a bid to set up its own payment system and app store on the iOS platform.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Epic CEO Tim Sweeney are among company executives that will testify at trial. Both companies have also engaged a small army of economists to lay out their positions to the judge.

Bloomberg

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