Legal trial in Epic Games’ bid to challenge Apple’s control in the online market place begins Monday

San Francisco, May 2 2021: A legal battle with potentially far reaching repercussions for the tech world will begin this Monday in the US, as Epic Games takes on Goliath Apple in a bid to break the grip the iPhone maker has on the online market place.

The trial is being held in a courtroom across the bay from San Francisco, and witnesses are to include the chief executives of Apple and Epic. Judge Rogers has tightly restricted access to the courtroom due to Covid-19 risks, allowing the public to listen to proceedings via a phone line or Zoom. The legal battle comes as Apple puts priority on selling digital content and subscription services to the one billion-plus people around the world using devices powered by its iOS mobile operating software.

The case opening in federal court comes with Apple feeling pressure from a wide range of app makers over its tight control of the App Store, which critics say represents monopolistic behavior. The two firms will be debating whether Apple has the right to set grounds rules, control payment systems and kick out apps from its marketplace that fail to comply. Also at stake will be Apple’s slice of revenue from iPhone apps, as much as 30 percent.

Apple contends that its commission is the industry norm, and is fair compensation for giving developers a global storefront and keeping it secure. Epic, which is seeking to return to the App Store without being forced to use Apple’s payment scheme, is not alone in its criticism.

Meanwhile the European Union has separately accused Apple of unfairly squeezing out music streaming rivals based on a complaint brought by Sweden-based Spotify and others which claim the California group sets rules that favor its own Apple Music. A recently formed Coalition for App Fairness, which includes both Spotify and Epic, have called for Apple to open up its marketplace, claiming its commission is a “tax” on rivals Apple booted Fortnite from its online mobile marketplace last year after Epic released an update that dodged revenue sharing with the iPhone maker.

Apple does not allow users of its popular devices to download apps from anywhere but its App Store, and developers have to use Apple’s payment system which takes its cut of up to 30 percent. Due to the legal row, Fortnite fans using iPhones or other Apple devices no longer have access to the latest game updates.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook boss has accused Apple of imposing rules for outside developers that it does not apply to its own services. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the change is about “giving the user the ability to make a decision about whether they want to be tracked or not. And so, it’s putting the user in the control. Not Apple, not another company.”

Apple is to counter with its position before witness testimony begins. The companies agreed to leave the verdict up to the judge instead of a jury.

Developer Epic earlier this year lodged a complaint against Apple with EU antitrust authorities, deepening its bitter feud with the iPhone-maker over its app store. Epic has said is seeking decisions by authorities to force Apple to amend its practices for all developers. As the battle over App Store control rages, Apple has not backed down. And it has ignited further complaints by implementing a new privacy policy which limits the ability of third-party apps to track users.

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