, it's a battle royale.
The high-profile lawsuit filed by Epic Games against Apple opened Monday in a California court which will be the scene for three weeks of accusations of the monopoly of one and the greed of the other, a case likely to influence the entire tech economy and its famous platforms used by billions of people.
"We will prove, without ambiguity, that Apple has a monopoly," said Epic lawyer Katherine Forrest, in opening remarks followed by hundreds of people by phone.
The App Store, the essential application store for iPhone and iPad, according to her works like a “walled garden”.
This critical metaphor of tech giants refers to their ecosystems, where they can set the rules, prioritize their own products, attract and trap users and developers, who have no alternative if they want to access this market.
"The most common flower in this closed garden is the flycatcher," a carnivorous plant, assenated Katherine Forrest.
The proof ?
“Getting our customers to use our iTunes, App Store and iBookstore stores is one of the best ways to get people hooked on the ecosystem,” Apple vice president Eddy Cue wrote to boss Tim Cook. in 2013 in an e-mail presented by the lawyer.
Billion user market
Fortnite enthusiasts don't have to play on an Apple-branded device, but, according to Epic boss Tim Sweeney, Apple has forced his company to either agree to unfavorable terms or lose access to it. this market.
“As Fortnite extends beyond video games… It is essential to be able to include the billion and a few iPhone users” in the world, he told judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.
Tim Cook is also scheduled to come to court in Oakland, a town near San Francisco, in person.
Apple banned Fortnite from the App Store last August for breach of contract immediately after Epic tried to bypass its payment system and thus avoid the 30% commission charged on sales.
"I wanted the world to see that Apple exercises full control over access to all software" via its mobile devices, explained Tim Sweeney.
His studio filed a complaint for abuse of a dominant position.
The Apple "grocery store"
But the Californian group does not exercise more of a monopoly than a "grocery store", retorted lawyer Karen Dunn for Apple, accusing Epic of greed.
"Apple did not build a safe ecosystem to exclude people, it did it to invite developers," she argued.
If Epic were to win, it would mean, for consumers and developers, "less security, less privacy, less reliability, less choice, and lower quality."
All those things that antitrust laws protect, ”she said.
“Epic will use its huge user base (roughly 350 million registered Fortnite players worldwide), which is second to none, to generate support through social media,” commented Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities.
But he notes that Apple's defense is well established and has not failed for years.
He predicts a victory for the group, "which will strengthen its grip on its App Store and payments."
With appeals and remedies, the battle could go on for years.
But it could also influence the current debate on competition law.
"If Epic wins and gets a claim that Apple's regulations violate antitrust laws, then Apple will have to write new ones," said Tejas Narechania, professor of law at UC Berkeley.
"There would be chain reactions for the entire industry, potentially."
The Gafa under pressure
Various American regulators are investigating the practices of Apple, and those of the online commerce platform Amazon, also considered as judge and party.
And Friday, the European Union, seized of a complaint from Spotify, estimated that the manufacturer of the iPhone had indeed "distorted the competition" to oust its rivals, in particular thanks to "very high" commissions including its own applications. are de facto exempt.
On Android, equipped with the Google system, which is largely dominant on smartphones, the store operates in a similar way, with one major difference: alternative download platforms are allowed.
The lawsuit “concerns a specific contractual arrangement (…).
But the real question, for me, is: do we really want an environment where all applications have to go through the same portal, which is controlled by the developer of the devices and the mobile operating system?
», Asks Erik Stallman, professor of law at the University of Berkeley.
"The future of mobile computing is at stake."
"Fortnite" has lost 60% of its players on iOS since it disappeared from the App Store