“Apple was making more profit from selling developer apps in the App Store than the developers”: Tim Sweeney during trial

Apple and Epic Games face off in court over the fate of Fortnite on iOS. Both the companies have submitted over 100 documents into evidence to make their case in an Oakland, California courtroom.

Epic Games deliberately violated Apple Inc.’s app-marketplace rules to show the power that Apple wields and that the tech giant takes an unfair share of money from software developers, the videogame company’s chief executive Tim Sweeney testified in a trial Monday. “Apple was making more profit from selling developer apps in the App Store than developers,” said Tim Sweeney whose company’s global hit Fortnite was removed from Apple’s mobile app platform last August as per BBC.

The relationship between Epic Games and Apple turned sour last year when the game developer broke Apple’s rules by putting its own in-app payment system in the iPhone version of Fortnite, bypassing Apple’s 30 per cent fee. In response, Apple kicked Fortnite out of the App Store. Epic Games, a $29 billion company, then slapped Apple with a 65-page lawsuit. The developer alleges Apple of running its App Store as a monopoly. In fact, Epic estimates Apple’s profit from the App Store’s fees is roughly 80 per cent – a huge figure which Apple calls “simply wrong.”

Sweeney testified that “Apple exercises total control over all software on iOS” and can deny access to apps at will.
Epic wants Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers (the judge presiding over the three-week trial) to order Apple to allow users to put third-party software onto their iPhones and ease its in-app payment rules. Those changes would apply to all kinds of apps, not just games like Epic’s Fortnite.

Sweeney further said in his testimony that the company had been happily contributing to Apple’s app ecosystem since 2010 but the relationship changed over the years as the iPhone maker’s policies grew more restrictive—a claim Apple denied. Attorneys for Apple defended its policies as critical for its App Store’s viability and success.

Sweeney also admitted to Apple counsel that the Epic Games Store is projected to have incurred a $719 million loss by the year 2027, even if it doesn’t allocate costs across the company. When asked by Apple’s attorneys, Sweeney also confirmed that its estimated earnings from the store that year would be $5 million.

The public call line allows anyone to dial in and listen to today’s proceedings, but the court failed to manage and mute all participants for more than 20 minutes. More than 200 participants were dialled into the public line, with many screaming “free Fortnite” or “bring back Fortnite on mobile please judge.” Others played Travis Scott tunes, chatted away, or advertised their YouTube channels.