Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, sat on the witness stand to defend the technology company in the trial of the lawsuit filed by developer Epic Games on Friday (21). In the legal battle between companies, the game maker Fortnite questions the commission charged by the App Store which collects 30% of all purchases made in the app store and claims that the high fee strengthens the monopoly of the apple company.
The arrival of the CEO ends a three-week trial, which has already included statements from executives of the two companies, partner companies, economists and other specialists. In defense of AppleCook said that company policies require that all applications meet the company's own guidelines in order to be authorized on the App Store.
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Tim Cook responded to questions from lawyers at Epic and Apple itself, as well as Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. The magistrate asked the CEO a series of questions and pointed out that big tech has no competition with in-app purchases. In response, Cook stated that the competition is with other platforms, such as Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation or Nintendo Switch.
Rogers then mentioned Apple's program aimed at small businesses and developers who earn less than $ 1 million a year, which reduced App Store commissions to 15%. “At least from what I've seen so far, it really wasn't the result of the competition. This is the result of the pressure you are feeling from investigations and lawsuits, not from competition, ”she said.
Tim Cook said the decision was made because of the coronavirus pandemic, which was made permanent afterwards. The judge pressed and said that "it was not competition". "It was a competition that, after we dropped to 15, Google dropped to 15," said Cook.
The magistrate returned to affirm that the action of Apple was not the result of the competition and amended that the majority of the purchases in the application come from players. Cook agreed with the last statement. "What's wrong with allowing users to have a choice, especially in a game context, to have a cheaper option of content?" she asked.
The Apple CEO stated that users have a choice between different smartphone models on the market, among Android and iPhone. Judge Rogers continued to pressure Cook and he appealed the argument previously used by the company's lawyers and executives.
Cook said in-app purchases are Apple's way of getting a return on its intellectual property. "But you can also monetize in a different way, can't you?" Rogers asked. She noted that there are free apps, such as banking, which represents big companies hitchhiking on the App Store after paying the $ 99 developer fee.
“But you are charging players to subsidize Wells Fargo (banking application). It is just the choice of a model ”, added the judge. In view of the argument, Tim Cook agreed that Apple made a choice. "There are clearly other ways to monetize and we chose this one because we think it is the best way," he said. Rogers concluded by stating that it was a very profitable way.
The trial is yet another week away. But district judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers may take weeks - or even months - to deliver the final verdict. If Apple wins, the scenario should remain and developers will continue to pay the 30% fee to the App Store. If the decision is different, the giant's services may be threatened.
The magistrate can also limit the decision to just this case, if the epic Games win the stalemate. The scenario would already be threatening for Apple, since other companies can follow in the footsteps of the game developer and enter a similar process.
However, if the verdict encompasses all applications on the iPhone, Apple may be forced to reduce the commission charged by the App Store. And that, of course, will mean less money entering the giant's cash register.
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