Epic Files Antitrust Complaint Against Apple in the EU

Posted on February 17, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Games, iOS, Mobile, Mobile gaming with 32 Comments

Epic is stepping up its legal battle against Apple’s anticompetitive business practices this week by filing an antitrust complaint with the EU.

“What’s at stake here is the very future of mobile platforms.” Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said in a prepared statement. “Consumers have the right to install apps from sources of their choosing and developers have the right to compete in a fair marketplace. We will not stand idly by and allow Apple to use its platform dominance to control what should be a level digital playing field. It’s bad for consumers, who are paying inflated prices due to the complete lack of competition among stores and in-app payment processing. And it’s bad for developers, whose very livelihoods often hinge on Apple’s complete discretion as to who to allow on the iOS platform, and on which terms.”

The move comes 6 months after Epic filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple in the United States after Apple removed Epic’s game Fortnite from its App Store. Not surprisingly, the complaints are nearly identical: Epic alleges that Apple carefully designed a series of anticompetitive restrictions to not just harm but eliminate competition in app distribution and digital payments on its platforms.

“Apple uses its control of the iOS ecosystem to benefit itself while blocking competitors and its conduct is an abuse of a dominant position and in breach of EU competition law,” Epic notes.

Epic will almost certainly find a more accommodating regulatory presence in Europe than it will in the U.S., where Apple is considered a domestic industry darling And that means that its proposed remedies—opening up Apple’s devices to other app stores and payment methods—could be more effective there. That said, the wheels of justice move slowly in the EU, so I wouldn’t expect a timely resolution, though it’s worth pointing out that the EU is already investigating Apple for this behavior.

“This is much bigger than Epic versus Apple,” the Epic announcement continues. “It goes to the heart of whether consumers and developers can do business together directly on mobile platforms or are forced to use monopoly channels against their wishes and interests … Epic is not seeking damages from Apple, as is the case in the US, Australia, and the UK. It is simply seeking fair access and competition that will benefit consumers and developers.”

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Comments (35)

35 responses to “Epic Files Antitrust Complaint Against Apple in the EU”

  1. Avatar

    behindmyscreen

    Epic is pathetic with this crap.


  2. Avatar

    red.radar

    I not certain there is a right that platforms be open. Rules exist for a reason. I think Epic is pushing a position sourced from entitlement.



  3. Avatar

    nbplopes

    In reply to lvthunder:


    Yes. I want that. I don’t need sugar cubes, that is for monkeys. The fact is developers don’t mind that at all. Ask any that actually has a business. Developers are used to pay for resources. File storage, Website hosting, database storage so on and so forth. Wha they aren’t used is to share 15%-30% of their revenue just to be able to deploy and host an bunch of files that make up an app. I repeat, just to deploy a bunch of files that make up an app!!!!!! More over, not only that, but have their pricing ruled by someone else.

  4. Avatar

    scovious

    Finally, a company with enough of a backbone to take on Apple.

  5. Avatar

    Calibr21

    Good on Epic. Alternatives to the App Store need to exist to control Apples power.

  6. Avatar

    nbplopes

    In reply to lvthunder:


    Peoe have in front a perfect example. MacOS. You can use exclusively the App Store if you want .... But if you don’t, for one reason or another you also can.


    Is there any problem in the Mac now even on ARM? Is the ecossystem in jeopardy? Is the App Store going bankrupt? No, no, no. and no. These justifications is nothing but a smoke screen.


    The current system is highly unfair. Take Microsoft Office, almost 100% subscribe out side, others their company do. So as far as we know MS pays 0 for the distribution. Who is paying? The devs share 30% of their revenue. The big ones get bigger the small ones get smaller.


    The model is extremely unfair.

  7. Avatar

    nbplopes

    In reply to lvthunder:


    No one is saying that you couldn’t be using the App Store still. Thatis not in question.

  8. Avatar

    nbplopes

    In reply to lvthunder:


    Yes it should! They should charge the infrastructure required to deploy and update the app. Devs are used to pay for that ... look around free web apps and web sites. take this one. Who pays for infrastructure of what you are getting?


    At a loss? The App Store must have profit margin of 90% or more man. They distribute nothing and update nothing but files with a strong curation and security around. I’m simplifying of course, but it’s not far from that. For this it charges 30% of the revenue.

  9. Avatar

    Andi

    In reply to lvthunder:

    Regarding your hypothesis of bypassing Apple's payment processor... so? So what if Epic would be able to use their own processor? Epic has its own infrastructure. So what if a small app would use Stripe or Paypal? The only mandatory fee should be the 100$ per year to be present in the app store. Just like on any PC - be it macos/linux/windows powered.


    In the context of Apple having by itself 60% of the marketshare in the US, not revenue share, marketshare, the exclusivity of Apple's payment processor must fall. I can support Apple keeping its walled garden and such but not the payment processor. Simple.

    • Avatar

      nbplopes

      In reply to Andi:


      Apple has a bunch of options. Make multiple App Store plans like Cloud services do. Indeed for developers and digital services, the App Store is a Cloud service to deploy their apps. Have a plan for app storage, update and review only, set the price. Than have another plan where App Store marketing tools are added and can charge per conversion. Another plan where a clear rate is set for transactions on Apple Pay. This even before allowing other payment processing engines ... and if they did, still the resources consumed would be fully payed at a profit for them.


      This is not complex for any developer in business do deal with. Clouds have been using this plan approach for decades. It’s closer to the resources used, meaning not speculative.


      The way I see it, Apple contributed has much for digital services growth has they contributed to Apple. That that part is all squared. Litmus test? Remove all third party apps from the App Store. Apple in these scenario would dive faster than digital services, way faster. They need the devs more than the devs need them, that is a fact. But somehow people think it’s the other way around today.

  10. Avatar

    RobertJasiek

    @red.radar, "Rules exist for a reason.": And laws exist for a reason, such as laws of fair trade. Company-set rules violating laws are void even if the rules exist for a reason from the company's perspective. The courts judge and we need to wait for their judgement.

  11. Avatar

    RobertJasiek

    In reply to lvthunder:

    One of the major reasons why I do not have an iPhone is that very much is missing in the iOS store that I would want on my phone. In particular software for third party contents offered without Apple tax on in-app purchases.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      I find it hard to believe that there are any important or popular mobile apps that aren't in the iOS App Store. (That aren't being banned like Fortnite.)
      • Avatar

        RobertJasiek

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        I do not care about mobile-specific apps but I care about software that is not device-specific but I would also want to use on mobile devices. To start with the obvious: Finder on i(Pad)OS devices. Next, think of my favourite Windows softwares for which I would want i(Pad)OS equivalents. Most importantly, local backup software without any Walled Garden exceptions.

        • Avatar

          Oreo

          In reply to RobertJasiek:

          Regarding the Finder, there is Apple’s Files, Dropbox and similar apps for Google Drive, etc.


          Regarding software selection: that‘s a really weird argument. iOS has the largest selection, and there are still apps that are iPhone-first. It only gets smaller if you are using an iPad and want iPad-specific apps.

          • Avatar

            RobertJasiek

            In reply to Oreo:

            Dropbox, Google Drive etc. are for cloud but useless for me because I need local file transfer to my local PC because I need a) privacy and b) availability even when the Internet connection is down.

            Apple’s Files is

            • still buggy,
            • extremely unreliable (and therefore inapplicable for more than a few dozen files; just recently I have described the necessity of manually deleting each single file in order to avoid reinstalling Files or possibly even i(Pad)OS),
            • restricted by the Walled Garden (it does not see all iTunes files; it does not handle all user files of Apple's own apps, such as bookmarks of Safari, PDFs in Apple's Book app, pictures in Apple's picture app; it violates privacy using telemetry for music files according to Apple's license conditions violating the laws),
            • inconvenient.


            Since Apple is unwilling and incapable of making Files a generally working files (transfer) manager and reliable, an alternative files (transfer) manager, such as Finder, is needed for i(Pad)OS devices.

            The largest selection? Sorry, but there is much more software for Windows or Linux than for i(Pad)OS devices. What you might mean is that there are at least millions of i(Pad)OS apps and that that should be enough for everybody, even if we ignore missing hardware drivers. Sheer number of apps does not (I repeat: NOT) provide all needed functionality. Almost all functionality I need is unavailable in i(Pad)OS apps. (Example: the union of all (dozens of) Go game diagram editors for i(Pad)OS provides only a tiny fraction of the functionality with very inefficient GUI, without compliance to a standard file format and at a very high price while just one such free software for Windows or Linux provides full functionality with compliance and a very efficient GUI.) Again, the most basic softwares / apps are file (transfer) managers, file tooks and backup; the best are as incomplete as Files. Even worse, every major i(Pad)OS update disables some file apps so that temporarily I cannot transfer / backup files. In practice, the myth "It just works" means that backup (regardless of however cumbersome) is necessary before each i(Pad)OS update.

            The transition to ARM has been accompanied by the promise that all macOS software will be available under i(Pad)OS within two years. Finder is the software I need but let's see whether Apple keeps its promise.

  12. Avatar

    nbplopes

    In reply to lvthunder:


    But that is it. The App Store is no supplier of anything but Apps. It does not for instance supply Spotify music or Yourube Videos, or email on Outlook, or classes in Google Classroom so on and so forth. It is simply a App Store, the policies betray the name of the service


    Now they are entitled to supply whatever apps they think. it’s their store.


    Just have a look at the top 20 apps and check how many are there due to the capacity of the App Store to promote their offerings. Almost 0.


    Its absurd. Imagine an ISP doing this to the Apple Store.

  13. Avatar

    toukale

    In reply to lvthunder:

    This is what some don't get. Most users don't have an issue with the current arrangement, as a matter of fact changing the current arrangement (what Epic wants) will complicate things for everyone just to benefit the bottom line of a few. I want no part in changes where companies like epic stand to benefit at the cost of everything else on the platform. I understand how frustrating the big guys feel but that's how commerce works, the one with the leverage will benefit the most, get some leverage than come back to the table, if not, then take your ball and go home.

  14. Avatar

    toukale

    I understand all those companies are frustrated with Apple's iron grip on their devices and platform but they did create, market them and make them successful. I am told all over the web that iPhones have a 15%/18% market shares of the mobile OS so why are everyone of those companies fighting like hell to get a piece of the Apple platform. Android has 80%+ of the market, why waste energy and time on a tiny iOS market? If the answer is that's where the folks with the most disposable income are then you need to pay to play.


    That has always been the way of commerce, those with the most leverage in any relationship will get their way. From my point of view all those companies need to get leverage against Apple to get a better deal, Amazon did it, meaning it can be done. Commerce is all about leverage, get some or you going to have to pay to play, nothing new here.

    • Avatar

      nbplopes

      In reply to toukale:


      No one wants to get a piece of Apple platform. The smartphone market already existed, so did the Internet and all companies linked to it.


      Why would Apple want to get a piece of the Internet? The facts is that the App Store serves apps.


      Not content such as books, music, videos, email, money transfers, classes so on and so forth. The company App Store and iOS policies imposes slice on all digital businesses except their own of course. Business can opt for doing Web only ... true, yet limiting the devices that no longer owns. Simple.


      I don’t understand Apple problem. If customers that choose to buy on App Store will keep on doing it.


      They made a very very good Smartphone, revolutionary. And the company sky rocket because of it, they got really well payed for that as they should. It’s great.

  15. Avatar

    nbplopes

    Epic has a case that either way it will shape the digital world “forever”. Competition is being eschewed down to 3 or 4 American companies. With the emergence of smart houses ... even a house becomes a device ... you can imagine how would that work ... cars become devices ... everything will be a device. Heck an entire village or city will be a device ... a platform. Imagine, don’t like the content, even if the house is perfectly good , one needs to change houses, cars, village, city ...


    A device sold is no longer the property of the supplier to rule over its contents and services. Can’t be for the sake of competition and freedom of choice. Freedom of choice can’t be predicated by the device. This is a basic principle.


    Wake up people!!!

    • Avatar

      rickcosby

      In reply to nbplopes:

      Merchants have always had the right to sell whatever they choose in their store. I can't sue Walmart if they choose not to sell my product. There is no "right" that compels any business owner to carry any product that they choose not to carry. Epic can go build a phone and sell it with their software prominently displayed on the Home Screen if they choose to do so. Then, like Apple, they can control what gets put on it. They have the money, Android is free(ish). Whether you like it or not, Apple owns the platform. It's like private property. They get to control it how ever they choose. If you don't like that, then you can leave and go somewhere else. It's OK to complain about fairness. It helps them see where they need to make changes. Can you imagine how screwed up phones would be if users could install apps from anywhere? Just look at PCs. That has been a disaster. Overall, nearly a third of PCs are infected with malware. I would argue that business machines are better than that and consumer PCs are worse. The number could be as high as 50% of all home PCs are infected. Imagine if 30% of all cellphones were malware laden. Who would be expected to clean that mess up? Would you then complain that Apple and Google aren't doing enough to protect users? Would they have to take on that responsibility? Do we really want to have to install virus and malware protection on our phones? And all of this so people can play Fortnite on a phone. Is this even a good experience?

  16. Avatar

    curtisspendlove

    Consumers have the right to install apps from sources of their choosing...”


    It’s interesting, then, that I had to choose the Epic Game Store to buy Satisfactory or wait an undefined amount of time to be able to buy it on Steam.


    All I’m ever going to see in this battle is hypocrisy. If Epic only sold their own games, and didn’t have their own 3rd party store with questionable ethics; I’d feel differently.

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