At another point, Apple lawyer asked Mr. Cook about Apple’s competition in the app market. Mr Cook said he believes digital marketplaces that sell games, including Epic’s and those made by game console makers such as Sony and Microsoft, are direct competitors to the App Store. However, he admitted, “I’m not a player.”
Throughout the trial, Judge Gonzalez Rogers made frequent efforts to clarify the jargon and continued to press witnesses to their responses. She inquired about the differences in business models for Fortnite, Epic’s most popular game, and games like Roblox and Minecraft from other companies, and asked how Apple’s security compares to third-party security.
Earlier this week, she said she didn’t see much evidence of any of Epic’s nine allegations accusing Apple of violating the essential facilities doctrine that prohibits companies from denying other companies access to certain markets . Apple quickly filed a motion to dismiss the essential facility claim.
The biggest challenge in deciding the case could be defining the market that Epic and Apple are contending over. Apple argued that Epic has many options for game distribution, including web browsers, game consoles, and PCs. Many of these platforms charge a commission similar to that of the App Store. If gaming is the market, according to Apple, then there are a lot of competitors – like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo – and Apple cannot have a monopoly.
Epic replied that Fortnite is more than a game. It’s something the company calls a metaverse – an infinite digital universe of activities, social media, and even concerts. The argument led to a long and detailed debate about what a game actually is. The point? In this case, so the lawyers from Epic, it concerns all mobile apps, which can only reach the one billion users of the iPhone via the Apple App Store.
Judge Gonzalez Rogers expressed frustration with the market semantics. “One side will say it’s black, the other say it’s white – usually it’s somewhere in the gray,” she said last week.
Apple argued that its fees were necessary to keep its customers safe. The company’s lawyers said the App Store’s restrictions protect iPhone users from malware and privacy breaches.