Epic Games, the maker of the video game Fortnite (pictured), has become embroiled in a showdown with Apple and Google. The group has introduced a way of paying for in-game purchases that bypasses Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store – as well as the tech giants’ 30% commissions.
Epic says that it is stopping its players from being ripped off and has launched an antitrust lawsuit. Apple and Google have responded by removing one of the world’s most popular video games from their stores. Game developers loathe the 30% “Apple Tax”, says Chaim Gartenberg in The Verge. Yet Apple cannot easily afford to drop the charge. While Apple executives like to talk about revenue from the likes of Apple Music, the income from such services is “dwarfed” by its App Store earnings. Last year it made about $18.3bn from its cut of these sales, nearly 40% of total service revenue. It takes chutzpah to face down Apple and Google at the same time, says Dan Gallagher in The Wall Street Journal. Yet Epic has some major industry backers. Apple will say the iPhone’s minority share of the smartphone market means it is not a monopolist, but there are more serious questions about how it exploits the App Store. “No developer can get an app on Apple’s devices without the company’s approval.”
Apple may be facing “a serious antitrust reckoning”, says Alex Webb on Bloomberg. It has evolved into a near-$2tn business, but still has the mentality of the upstart underdog. It is “a 120-pound Great Dane that still thinks it’s a puppy”.
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