Epic Games Calls Apple A Monopolist As Antitrust Trial Kicks Off In California Federal Court – Tech Giant “Built A Walled Garden And Threw Away The Key”

Epic Games Monday slammed Apple for making billions of dollars off the back of developers, describing an arbitrary and dictatorial regime by the Tim Cook-led company that draws apps to the iOS operating system and takes a big chunk of their business – after claiming early on that it didn’t intend to make a profit on the App Store.

“Developers found themselves caught in a trap of Apple’s making. They had accepted Apples assurances that it would not make profit on the App Store and once they committed themselves to working in the ecosystem they found non-negotiable termination provisions … a ‘take it or leave it’  infrastructure,” said a counsel for the game-maker.

Last August, summer Epic Games, the powerful company behind Fortnite drew a line in the sand. Today Epic Games, Inc. v. Apple Inc. is finally in court.  The case is the result of Epic Games updating the Fortnite iPhone app so gamers could pay Epic directly, bypassing Apple’s payment system and controversial 30% commission. Apple hit back by yanking Fortnite from the App Store.

Epic launched a “FreeFortnite” ad campaign and sued. It has accused Apple of monopolistic practices. Its App Store is the only way to install software on Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS. Developers who make software for iOS must follow Apple’s rules and use its payment system, which charges a commission on every sale.

Epic, whose CEO Tim Sweeney wil be testifying along with Cook during the bench trial, which is expected to run about three weeks, noted that it is one of very few companies with the resources to take on a fight with the largest company in the world ($2.2 trillion in market cap) but it’s “far from the only distributor and developer” with a problem.

Apple promised that there was an app for everything and so attracted millions of users to its system, said Epic counsel. “After it lured in enough users and developers to its walled Garden, they became trapped and Apple imposed ever more numerous restrictions and threw away the key.”

The two sides had agreed to a bench trial, which means it will be decided by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of U.S. District Court for Northern California in Oakland.

The court provided a conference call number to listen in but the audio got off to a rocky start as hundreds called — many Fortnite fans apparently — and administrators had trouble muting the lines, resulting in a late start to the proceedings. “I’m going to tell my mom, ‘Don’t pick up the phone ever, I want to listen to this sh-t,’” said one voice audible over the cacophony.

“Your honor, please bring back mobile! Bring back Battle Royale!” said another. “If Apple wins, I’m selling my iPhone!”

MORE to come — Apple’s on now. (Below is Tweet that started it all.)

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