Per Deadline, Cook defended the iOS App store during a testimony after Epic Games accused the company of being a “monopolist” in the drawn-out antitrust trial. Aside from Epic’s disagreement on how much of a commission Apple should take, the Fortnite and Unreal Engine developer said the tech giant makes it difficult for developers to allow customers to make transactions outside of the App Store ecosystem.
Cook, in defending his company, said that allowing developers to do this would be “akin to Apple going down to Best Buy and advertising that you can go across the street to the Apple Store and get an iPhone.” Shortly after Cook was grilled on Apple’s 30 percent cut on all App Store revenue, Epic Games attorney Gary Bornstein joked, “I have an iPhone, sir, I hope it still works after the examination today.”
The Verge reports that Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers noted that the majority of Apple’s App Store revenue comes from transactions in games, and she questioned why developers can’t direct users to other payment methods. “If they wanted to go and get a cheaper Battle Pass or V-Bucks, and they don’t know they’ve got that option, what is the problem with Apple giving them that option?" Rogers asked. "If we allowed people to link out like that, we would in essence give up our total return on our [intellectual property]," he replied.
The legal battle first kicked off when Epic bypassed Apple’s payment system in an update for Fortnite on iOS, allowing users to purchase the in-game currency V-Bucks for a lower price since Apple wouldn’t be the middle-man in the transaction. In response, Apple removed the game from the iOS App Store, which prompted Epic to file a lawsuit against Apple.
“We always put the user at the center of everything," said Cook, who called the App Store "an economic miracle." Questions Cook faced tackled topics such as competition data, China, privacy concerns, App Store Curation, and gaming streaming services, such as Google Stadia and PlayStation Now. Asked if he was familiar with such services, he replied, “Somewhat, I’m not a gamer.”