Apple faces monopoly claim in Epic court battle - RTHK
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Apple faces monopoly claim in Epic court battle

2021-05-04 HKT 02:42
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  • An Apple employee wheels boxes full of exhibits into court. Photo: AP
    An Apple employee wheels boxes full of exhibits into court. Photo: AP
Fortnite maker Epic Games and Apple clashed in court Monday at the opening of a blockbuster trial on the iPhone maker's App Store with potentially big implications for the world of mobile tech, trading barbs over alleged monopolistic actions and what is best for consumers.

Epic attorney Katherine Forrest began the case, accusing Apple of turning its online marketplace into a monopoly "walled garden" that lures in developers and users, then squeezes money out of them.

Apple essentially planted a "flower in the walled garden (that) was turned into a Venus fly trap," the lawyer said in opening statements in California federal court, claiming the technology titan gets profits as much as 78 percent from apps.

"The evidence will show unambiguously that Apple is a monopoly," she claimed.

Apple lawyer Karen Dunn fired back, telling the judge that Epic's suit is part of a "self-proclaimed war against mobile platform fees" that defies the law and the facts.

Apple is no more a monopoly than is a grocery market that sells a broad array of goods, competing with other shops, Dunn maintained, pointing out that people can play Epic games on platforms including consoles, personal computers and smartphones made by Apple rivals.

If Epic prevails, Dunn said: "The result for consumers and developers will be: Less security. Less privacy. Less reliability. Lower quality. Less choice. All of the things the antitrust laws seek to protect."

Epic, maker of the popular "battle royal" game Fortnite, is aiming to break the grip of the iPhone maker on its App Store, in the latest assault on Apple's tightly controlled empire.

The case opening in federal court comes with Apple feeling pressure from a wide range of app makers over its control of the App Store, which critics say represents monopolistic behavior.

The two firms are debating whether Apple has the right to set ground rules, control payment systems and kick out apps from its marketplace that fail to comply. Also at stake is Apple's slice of revenue from iPhone apps of as much as 30 percent. (AFP)