Epic and Apple went in front of the Judge for the first time in a Zoom-based hearing, where both companies exchanged hooks. It wasn’t pretty, but that’s what lawyers are for.
In the end, she was Solomonic. Epic couldn’t demonstrate that Apple's actions had caused any "irreparable harm" and that Epic has "strategically chosen to breach its agreements with Apple”. — But also Apple should stay away from touching Unreal Engine and that it had "chosen to act severely" by threatening to block that software which is widely used by other developers: “Epic Games and Apple are at liberty to litigate against each other, but their dispute should not create havoc to bystanders”
A powerful argument in the future trial will be if Apple actions can harm Epic Games outside of what Fortnite does/did. Epic lawyers said that Unreal Engine is already being hit:
Developers are fleeing the Unreal Engine. It’s happening now. It’s not speculative
Please remember that I don’t think this trial will even begin. Or if it does, it won’t end before getting settled outside of court.
Meanwhile, Microsoft filed a new declaration in support of the Epic Games’ motion (PDF).
Denying Epic access to Apple’s SDK and other development tools will prevent Epic from supporting Unreal Engine on iOS and macOS,” said Kevin Gammill, Microsoft’s general manager for third-party developers on the Xbox, “and will place Unreal Engine and those game creators that have built, are building, and may build games on it at a substantial disadvantage.”
Hard to argue with Microsoft’s position. A lot of software is made with Unreal Engine and Apple shouldn’t touch it. I think if they do, Epic’s gambit will look way more favorable to the regulators.
The new season of Fornite begun this week without the new maps and characters coming to iOS or Mac, as Epic can’t update the game.
Apple has casually started promoting PUBG, an old competitor of Fortnite. Because nothing says: “I don’t care” like caring so much. Most of the replies are asking for Fortnite back in the App Store.
Here’s a chart of PUBG active players in Steam. Most people got tired of the game two years ago.
Talking about regulators
Representative David Cicilline, the Democrat chairman of the House antitrust panel floated a few bold ideas to the press about what the panel is studying and considering:
“The kind of common theme is the abuse of their market power to maintain their market dominance, to crush competitors, to exclude folks from their platform and to earn monopoly rents.”
Now I’m no expert in American politics, but that position would hold more water with Joe Biden in the White House and the Democratic Party running the Senate. But more interestingly, he talked about Glass-Steagall, a worldwide known U.S. law that separated commercial and investment banking in the past. Many economists blame its repeal as the ground for the Great Recession.
Here the U.S. lawmakers could try to separate operating systems with the market platforms that are embedded in them:
For tech companies, it would mean prohibiting them from running a platform and competing on it at the same time.
This would mean that Apple could control iOS or the App Store, but not both, as it wouldn’t be fair (under this hypothetical law) to run the the only distribution method while competing in it. Something Brussels is looking at it too, as is the root for the Spotify vs. Apple Music kerfuffle: Apple Music doesn’t pay Apple 30% of its fees.
If the lines are well drawn, a difficult task, it could establish a powerful deterrent going forward when Virtual Reality platforms become popular in a few years. It could be also just be a very basic set of rules, without needing to split any company. It would affect every U.S. based tech company with a digital marketplace. Maybe even foreign companies selling in America too.
Crypto guys enter the room
Francisco Tolmasky, an ex-Apple engineer that worked on the iPhone Safari when it first came out, went philosophical on Twitter, arguing that
“Apple’s iOS rules would not have allowed for the invention of the web browser.”
A thing not even the super-evil-Microsoft of the 90s dared to do. To which Paul Graham, founder of Ycombinator naively argued back:
what new thing like the browser isn't happening because of Apple's rules?
And the crypto guys rightly piled up. Like Brian Armstrong, CEO and Founder of Coinbase:
The world can’t decentralize web browsing without smartphones. And we’ll hear more and more about this story.
Also, I don’t want to be that guy that brings “the porn debate” to the the table, but Apple’s position about porn was stupid in 2007, and it’s still stupid in 2020. Remember when Apple banned Tumblr because it had some pornographic pictures in the platform (not unlike any Twitter or Reddit client)? I still don’t know how that didn’t end up in the courts right away. But here we are.
I get that “porn”, “bittorrent” and “crypto” are scary to many, but blanket bans don’t do any good.
The pear thing keeps going
Honestly, i don’t know what hit the head of trademark lawyers at Apple, but pursuing this won’t do them any good. Now Apple is going after Prepear’s trademark filing in Canada too. Insane.