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Apple Terminates Epic Games' Developer Account (macrumors.com)
1169 points by tosh 63 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 1474 comments

All: these Epic vs. Apple threads, and $BigCo vs. $BigCo threads in general, have unfortunately been seeing more name-calling, accusations of manipulation, flamebait/unsubstantive posts, and other things that break the HN guidelines. If you comment, can you please avoid that? Reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html would help.

The idea here is: if you have a substantive point to make, make it thoughtfully; if you don't, please don't comment until you do. Remember that every post you make has a non-negligible impact on the community. If we all treat this place like the discussion forum we'd like to have, eventually we'll have it.

This is a stub comment to collect the replies so we can collapse them, to prevent offtopicness. Sorry, no-JS users.

Unfortunately, supporting a brand as team sports is a thing like supporting a political party as team sports is.

HN is, hopefully, better than most places on the internet as there are lots of people willing to decide each issue on its merits, and also recalibrate their positions continually in the light of events,

HN is not better in that way, or else the comment you’re replying to wouldn’t have needed to posted. HN users often bring preexisting and inflexible views to new discussions, on topics such as GateKeeper, GPL licensing, and ‘freedoms’. Unpopular positions on such topics are frequently unwelcome in discussions, even when presented with good reasoning and respectful tone. HN users often use downvotes to hide content they disagree with, rather than to hide content of low quality alone. HN users often use conversational warfare and personal attacks to diminish the views of others. We have more than earned this chastisement by the mods over the past few months.

When I downvote for low quality, I often have the distinct impression that the recipient of the downvote would not understand or admit to themselves the quality deficit I had in mind and certainly wouldn't correctly attribute the downvote to it. It's always easier to believe that you're being downvoted simply because people disagree with you.

Of course, everyone has to be their own judge in every particular case, but there's so much room for disagreement that generalized interpretations of downvoting behavior just aren't convincing.

That's all true, but I'm not sure that's relevant. I agree with the GP, not because my posts are downvoted, but because I see respectful, thoughtful posts from established users of reasonable karma downvoted into greyed-out territory for no obvious reason other than that their opinions (or their facts) are not popular. This includes posts I agree and disagree with, so I don't think it's necessarily bias. I also think it is behavior that has become endemic (although I may think so because I find myself having trouble not doing that).

Introspecting into the occasions when I myself downvote out of disagreement it is usually:

1. I think the other person "doesn't get it."

2. I lack the time to offer a substantive opinion.

3. The other party has demonstrated either: a. A tendency to view statements ungenerously or; b. that they already know The One True Way.

4. Some combination of the above.

Edit: List formatting.

Y'all may wish to evaluate whether #2 has an undertone of 'instead of accepting their argument', as we human beings have a latent tendency to find the easiest way to reject contradiction. I think that the below thought process, whether conscious or unconscious, is affecting downvoting behavior on most online forums that permit unmoderated downvotes:

"I'm confident that I'm right and they're wrong, but their argument is very well put, and after a minute of thinking about it I can't find any way to contradict their viewpoint. I'll just downvote it now so that I can mentally dismiss it and move on without giving it further consideration, because otherwise it'll continue bothering me that I might be wrong."

(And, to parent: thank you for taking the time to reason through this and consider your own actions. I'm not sure where I stand on #1 at all. I'll have to think on it a while longer than a day.)

> Unfortunately, supporting a brand as team sports is a thing like supporting a political party as team sports is.

My take is the exact opposite: this episode is an opportunity to air grievances regarding each company, which by themselves have amassed a bunch of reasons for customers and end users to dislike them. There are no good guys in this story, only bad guys whose evilness outstages the other's evilness.

I agree but here is my take: These companies don't deserve this much of your attention or feelings. I have worked for Amazon and Google, and at the end of the day neither is a place with feelings. I have a lot of love for co-workers in both places and was part of some amazing products. I think I would say the same if I ever worked at Apple.

For me, like in others, Apple sure brings up a lot of feelings for some reason. I have gone to from hating to loving to hating to loving. Now I think they are currently on a really good iteration of products and I will use them when it makes sense for me. If they hit a rough patch I will try something else.

As for the 30% cut etc, I can't get emotional about that. There are so much bigger issues in the world. You have democracy, global warming, nculear weapons, war and famine.

> As for the 30% cut etc, I can't get emotional about that. There are so much bigger issues in the world. You have democracy, global warming, nculear weapons, war and famine.

I can’t get emotional about the 30% cut either, but I can and do get emotional about locked-down computing devices. For a kid that grows up only or primarily using a smartphone rather than a laptop, what chance do you think they have to learn how this stuff works? If you use an iPhone, you can’t even begin to write software for it without also having a Mac, and it certainly doesn’t make its inner workings apparent.

Kids only having access to phones and not laptops is a thing that really happens, especially among lower-income families: https://www.vox.com/2020/4/9/21200159/coronavirus-school-dig...

And speaking of democracy, when companies lock down devices such that the manufacturer must approve any software that runs on them, what do you think the impact is on users of those devices when the government of a less-democratic country pressures the manufacturer to remove apps they find inconvenient? See China’s take on VPN apps on iOS.

The more we teach people that computers are magic and design systems such that huge distant companies dictate how it works, the more the balance of power shifts away from individuals. These things have real-world impact. I’m not just picking on Apple here, they’ve just gone further than most so far; this kind of attitude is endemic in our industry, though.

Fortunately the US legal system does not work like that, because while the issue isn't important to you, actually it turns out the issue is important to Epic.

And I think I can sympathize with them, considering 30% of my revenue is walking out the door to a company that charges both consumers for the hardware and companies for the right to send binaries to a user.

I'm sympathizing with you (well maybe, don't know exactly what you are making :-), but not really with Epic. Don't really think they are in it for good reasons.

> I agree but here is my take: These companies don't deserve this much of your attention or feelings.

None of the arguments are emotional responses. All arguments are rational responses to the problems that both Apple and Epic Games creates with their modus operandi, and the comments we see about this issue boil down to people pointing out how the modus operandi of these companies again havr negative effects.

> There are no good guys in this story, only bad guys whose evilness outstages the other's evilness.

I'm not a stakeholder in Apple or Epic. I don't possess products from either. That said, I'm inclined to view epic's actions here as closer to civil disobedience, specifically in that epic is playing the long game to prove their opinion that Apple's contractual terms are anti-competitive.

Because it maps so effectively to civil rights struggles for me and likely for others as well (sidebar — I'm not white), I can see why this topic gets pretty heated. It's not so much about evil v. evil as it is about one group feeling oppressed v. another feeling offended at (their team) being accused of oppression.

More like: Apple is offering a take it or leave it deal. Epic doesn't find it acceptable, and is willing to lose access to the store and take Apple to court. They clearly think that taking a shot at breaking the monopoly is worth it. It isn't civil rights, it's business.

> (sidebar — I'm not white)

Thank you.

Can you please stop posting unsubstantive and/or flamebait comments to HN? You've been doing it repeatedly and we've asked you repeatedly not to. You've also posted substantive comments. That's great; please keep those and drop the others.

Then there are outright attacks like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24045935, which we would have banned you for if we had seen it at the time. Please don't do those any more.

If you wouldn't mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and using HN in the intended spirit, we'd be grateful.

Trying to move a conversation about Apple and Epic Games into social justice politics territory (i.e. the comment I replied to here) is definitional flamebait.

And yes, I called that guy a stupid fuck only after my two civil comments both got flagged, one including a source. I'd say I acted in good faith there, and got flagged by the community. The level of toxic use of downvote/flag on this site is quite apparent, and maybe mods should find a different approach on moderating or even allowing non-technical topics. Comments or discussion on those topics is constantly slanted in a disgusting manner, and I could easily lose my own downvote rights for bothering to participate.

PS: I'm not white. Will I get protected by moderation now that I've pointed this out, or do I need to throw that in to every one of my comments as if it is relevant? Or am I just fucked because I'm not a leftie who feels compelled to use my race as a blunt object when engaging people online?

That's because you're on HN and you and others are reasonable people :)

People in the more general population definitely support Company A or B as if these were sports team, you can in fact find this on the linked article.

Indeed fanboyism is a thing, but personally I don't see it in this case. I see arguments accusing a monopolistic app store manager who is enforcing draconian guidelines to abuse it's monopoly, and I see arguments accusing a software vendor with a long history of abuse getting locked out of a plstform it by violating its terms and conditions when attempting to avoid paying for it's use. None of these actions are cheerable.

that's well put. i'll admit, i'm mostly reading these threads for the satisfaction of seeing the grievances aired with increasing volume and frequency.

"supporting a brand as team sports is a thing like supporting a political party as team sports is"

This may be true at times, but the assumption of the same is the root of a lot of the toxic behavior. You cannot be neutral or even in agreement with Apple's position without being a "fanboy", or giving into the "cult of Apple", etc.

It is politics because it inevitably involves demands of government intervention, often of frankly questionable wisdom.

That is distinct between the emacs vs vi sort of social identity dichotomies. Coke isn't trying to ban pepsi or demand they change their formula.

But what if you have invested in a brand, and it is paying your salary?

If you didn't already, consider taking look at the details/summary elements (https://caniuse.com/#search=summary) which provide a non-JS method for collapse-by-default and as of late have quite good evergreen support. They're fairly versatile, I've even used them recently for JS-free context menus. The only gotcha (the 80% implementation part) is in consistently overriding their default styles on all platforms.

@dang: You previously said in another comment:

> The idea here is: if you have a substantive point to make, make it thoughtfully; if you don't, please don't comment until you do. "Boo $BigCo", "yay $BigCo" fan-v.-antifan cage matches are not curious conversation. We want curious conversation.

If you really desire that, then please consider making some fundamental changes to how HN voting and auto-moderation works.

I just saw a comment pop up and get downvoted into the gray WHILE IT WAS STILL AT "0 minutes ago": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24314105

Currently, every HN mechanism seems designed to make these "conversations" one-sided, where $SideA just gets to pile on $SideB with abandon and all $SideB can do is watch:

• Any user that piles on $PitchforkTarget gets tens of upvotes.

• Any comment that does not pile on $PitchforkTarget gets downvoted, no matter how substantive or thoughtful it is.

• It’s not enough to just not support $PitchforkTarget; simply remaining neutral is enough to get downvoted.

• A few downvotes in a row makes you unable to post anything anywhere on HN for several hours.

All this comes together to say: “When there’s a mob against $PitchforkTarget, join it or stay out of it.”

HN does not allow the "wrong" side a chance to be heard, and punishes users for having the "incorrect" opinion. I am literally afraid to post anything by now on such topics.

This is NOT a conversation, this is an echo chamber.

Comments sometimes get downvoted in the first minute. That's just how stochastic processes work if you have enough data, and there are a lot of people reading these threads.

These discussions are not one-sided—they're two-sided at least, which is one reason people get so mad at each other. Each side feels like the discussion is one-sided against it though.

I certainly agree that internet dynamics favor indignation, but that's not specific to HN and it's not clear what any technical changes could do to mitigate it. We do everything we can as moderators.

This is inaccurate: "A few downvotes in a row makes you unable to post anything anywhere on HN for several hours". Rate limiting isn't based on votes. Moderators rate-limit accounts when they post too many low-quality comments too quickly and/or get involved in flamewars. There are also some software filters that can lead to rate limits, such as for new accounts.

> Comments sometimes get downvoted in the first minute.

Making them invisible to other readers and pushing them down, like the example [0] above.

All it takes is, what, 2 or 3 downvotes to prevent thousands of other users from even seeing a comment?

> These discussions are not one-sided—they're two-sided at least

On this very page, there were only 2 comments for most of the time, without clicking "More": Yours, and the one favoring Epic.

Any comments with an opposing view appeared briefly before being driven out in under a minute, again like that example [0].

> it's not clear what any technical changes could do to mitigate it.

On Reddit, some communities hide karma scores for a specified amount of time.

HN could do the same: Do not show the score and do not let the score affect a comment's visibility for N hours.

That would at least ensure that every voice has a chance to be heard, and reduce the emotions which result from seeing yourself instantly downvoted if you don't agree with the louder voices.

For spam and more severe violations, there's always the Flag button.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24314105

As for

> Rate limiting isn't based on votes. Moderators rate-limit accounts when they post too many low-quality comments too quickly and/or get involved in flamewars.

I had never encountered that in all my 6 years on HN, until recently when I tried to take the side of the mob's targets as loudly as the voices decrying them in such "conversations".

I'm surprised this kind of topic inspires such discourse. I wonder what makes it different than other topics.

It touches on multiple axes of discussion that can often be found here:

- The rights of the individual/company compared to the good of the public.

- The right of an individual to control that which they bought. Also, whether and what you buy compared to license the use of.

- Anti-competitive behavior and monopolies (as distinct concepts, whether one applies doesn't preclude a different answer for the other).

- Very large companies and the amount of control they have over individuals and their rights.

These are all vibrant topics of discussion on HN, and this includes, and in some cases epitomizes, aspects of all of those and more.

I think these all also touch on deeper aspects of our personal stories and the emotions we feel about them. See the post about a non-white person viewing it as a battle between an oppressed party and a party upset at being viewed as an oppressed party.

Although people like to believe they think rationally, especially here; the truth is, none of us is capable of doing so all the time. We all bring things to the table. And I think each of the things you mention touches all of us pretty deeply, as it has to do with all of our individual standings in society and our freedom to live our lives.

Plus as it's HN, there's a lot of people who want to have control over what their customers do with their products. lol. It's like those threads where some company is exposed for spying on their users, where a bunch of people argue that it's just telemetry and they wouldn't know what their customers wanted if they didn't spy on them and stuff.

These faction wars exist for most brands that have any adversarial relationship or buy-in.

Another major example is Xbox vs Playstation. Often because mom is only going to buy you one and not both, so now you're part of that faction when duking it out online. That's certainly how I spent my summer at age 15.

Ideally you grow out of caring which corporation stacks more money, though. Very boring hobby.

As a dev I feel very passionate about open hardware platforms. I don't really care about epic, but the fact they are taking on this fight regardless of motives makes me very happy.

That could be a factor.

I think the fact that there are many devs here who deal with and depend on Apple is much more significant though.

It's a topic that most people can relate to and pits two complicated viewpoints ("user/developer access to hardware" and "vendors keeping their platform from becoming a cesspool of spam and low-quality content") with notes of other important topics ("freedom of speech", "monopolies").

Tribalism, sunk-cost etc.

If this discussion was on Reddit or similar is would probably more one-sided both due to the number of people who play games and the proportionally lower amount of people who have spent a lot of money on Apple products than on HN (accidental humblebraggging regarding your credit card bill seems relatively prevalent here)

I can immediately see that you are biased as your comment implicitly implies that everyone buying Apple products is an idiot who buys overpriced hardware on credit just for the status symbol.

Consider that instead we are professionals that need the best tool possible that works and is functional

Both Apple and Epic are exceptionally.... "controversial" companies that people have Thoughts on.

Tie that in with the usual Software Freedoms and people wishfully thinking they one day will be in Apple's shoes.

It's Apple. 'Nuff said.

(More specifically, it's Apple and Fortnite. Two very popular franchises.)

I am really curious how this stub comment functionality works on the backend. How does the dashboard looks dang?

I just did it manually. That is, I posted the stub like I would any other comment, and then used a REPL to move the replies to my top-level comment and make them children of the stub. There's no specific code support beyond that, though I've done it often enough that I've thought maybe I should write something. Does that answer your question?

Yes. I was expecting a dashboard of some kind given you seem to do this often.

Workaround (kind of) for nojs users: these comments are available via the api, so you can access them via your choice of app or alternative UI (there are some sites around that put a different interface around the api).

I agree, but I think the downvoting provides all of the corrective feedback your target audience needs to learn this.

I'm not so sure about that. Downvotes are as much an indicator of outspokenness as they are that one's post is repugnant. Unfortunately lots of people love to downvote posts they do not agree with, or don't support their chosen side

Unfortunately lots of people love to downvote posts they do not agree with

This behavior has been given blessings.


I'm not sure that's exactly what they meant. If someone writes a comment with an incorrect fact, it's common to see it downvoted. It also happens with rude or humorous comments.

But it also happens with opinions, no matter how thoughtful, rational and well written the comment is. Even with true facts that someone happens to dislike. I'm avoiding certain topics as long as I can and following pg's advice in What you can't say. It's not worth it. Actually I'm avoiding most topics that I find interesting directly for me, begining with the technical ones.

I would also like a new feature in HN: giving up the right to vote.

You’re avoiding certain topics, even ones you are interested in because of the downvote behavior, impacting even “thoughtful, rational and well written” comments?

Please let me know if I’ve misread you. But interesting.

Specially the ones I'm interested. It's mostly others' comments that I see downvoted. With mine I see another problem: responses use to be completely unrelated to the point I was trying to make.

I'm not an English native speaker and ellaborating in technical topics is more difficult than in pop-sci or net folklore. Spending a long time composing a comment just to see it misunderstood or downvoted is discouraging.

If you take a look at my recent comments, there was someone complaining that he could not control his browser completely. I've had some success using Chromium Embedded Framework. I suggested that and got a -2. Why? I don't know, because it was a post about Firefox? So what? Someone that disliked another thing I said?

It doesn't matter, but it happens to be my most technical comment in weeks, maybe months. Other of my comments with platitudes are much upvoted.

Most discussions are polarized. Sometimes I start to write a comment writing a disclaimer saying that I'm not in side X, but... when I notice that, I stop and cancel. And that's not only politics or bigco.

I completely understand you, friend. Personally given up trying to pacify other commenters and just speak my truths. That doesn’t mean going out of my way to offend people with my words, I try hard to NOT do that-but I’m also not going out of my way to appease them either.

I think the problem with downvotes is that they tend to make the comment invisible. Initial downvotes don't reflect the community unless it's a general consensus (political flame bait).

They get buried and then no one ever sees them to upvote. The visibility in the absence of raw numbers works as a reference and sometimes it is misleading.

Oh now suddenly shills exist.

Not shills—fans.

Real shilling/astroturfing is a different phenomenon. It certainly exists, but from everything I've looked at, it's orders of magnitude less common than fans making up bogus accusations about shilling.

> Not shills—fans.

> Real shilling/astroturfing is a different phenomenon. It certainly exists, but from everything I've looked at, it's orders of magnitude less common than fans making up bogus accusations about shilling.

This is interesting... how many orders of magnitude?

My feeling is that this whole situation is mostly going as Tim Sweeney intended. He was itching for a fight, wanted to sue Apple. The harsher that Apple retaliates, the better Epic's court case. Apple is playing right into his hands.

Did Sweeney anticipate Apple's threat to Unreal Engine? Maybe, maybe not. But the temporary restraining order did block that threat, at least for now.

I don't think Epic ever intended to release the new Fortnite season on Apple platforms.

This is a long play, not a short play. In the short term, Epic loses money by not having Fortnite on Apple devices. But in the long term, it's much better for Epic to break Apple's App Store monopoly.

I can't see how Epic wins this.

If Stripe can claim Wells Fargo doesn't want to process porn payments, and that's legal, how can an American court rule for Epic?

Epic are obviously going to lose, and lose hard, or set a precedent that's going to screw every payment provider in America and open a flood gate for fraudulent payments.

You can't force someone to sell something they don't want to, especially because Apple is nowhere near a monopoly in games or gaming sales, they can just point at steam.

If somehow the American courts arrive at that judgement, and I am a non-lawyer, I put my hands up, but surely it's going to set all sorts of nasty precedents?

Edit: The more I think about it the more absurd this is. It's as if some random brand of Mayo is suing Wallmart for not stocking their brand on their shelves.

There is absolutely no way they can win this, unless American courts are going to start allowing "mom & pop" random ketchup brand to force Wallmart to stock it on their shelves. Apple doesn't have a monopoly on phones, it doesn't have a monopoly on games, it's got a store front you can buy stuff from, and if you don't want to play by their rules, then bye-bye. Wallmart choose their suppliers, and sets the markup, why can't Apple?

The iPhone is not a store. The App Store is a store. Epic wants to be on the iPhone, but not necessarily in the App Store. Ideally, Epic wants to run its own store on the iPhone.

In any case, App Store is the only store in town, where the "town" is the 1.5 billion iOS users. If there's only 1 store, with no competing stores, that's an entirely different situation legally.

Yeah, I bought a $1000 device, but somehow Apple gets to decide what I run on it? I just cannot see how that is a desireable situation.

I bought a $1000 device because Apple gets to decide what can run on it. I like iOS, and I like that Apple provides a great user experience on the device.

I was not in any way coerced into buying said device, and there are a plethora of other options for substitute devices had I wanted more control of what runs on the device, which I do not.

What other things in your life would you accept similar limitation?

Would you accept a house that only allowed furniture, food, books, electronics, devices from the company that built the house? Do you think it should be legal for a company to make a house with those conditions?

Would accept a car that could only take gas, tires, oil, electricity from the company that built the car? Should it be legal to offer such a vehicle?

You used to be able to buy a VCR and choose only to rent videos from Blockbuster video if you wanted "safe and clean". That didn't require any company making the VCR to force people to only to go their "safe and clean store". Apple doesn't need to force everyone on iOS to go to their store for you personally to continue to only get apps from their store.

The only digital device that allows you to run anything you want on it is a pc.

Consoles? Only allows you to run code they allow, since forever.

CD/DVD Players? Only runs the code which gets flashed during manufacturing.

TVs? Can’t run your own code.

The list goes on, Apple was actually the first company which made a marketplace on a non PC device which had a overly cheap way to get your software on it and they even made it super easy and cheap for developers to get updates for their code on it, that was during a time where consoles where limited to physical media to ship your code to customers. Microsoft made you pay 5 digits or something similar outraging to release updates on Xbox once they had a digital store on it.

Is Apples model outdated by now? Maybe. Should a court force them to practically change their model to the one of their competition? Well, why should anyone buy their stuff then anymore? It would practically made their brand worthless to me, they’d just become another pc shop, the last time they tried that it nearly made them bankrupt.

That time made Apple what it is today, it’s in their DNA. They’ll fight anyone which tries to change that.

> The only digital device that allows you to run anything you want on it is a pc.

Apple Macintosh?

> CD/DVD Players? Only runs the code which gets flashed during manufacturing.

> TVs? Can’t run your own code.

CD/DVD players don't demand a cut of music and movies. TVs don't demand a cut of TV shows. These devices work on a standardized, non-propriety format. You can even burn a CD at home. So in a sense, you can run your own code. You can play home movies on your TV too.

It's too narrow to think of freedom only in terms of "code".

> Apple Macintosh?

PC as in Personal Computer, which includes Macs, but even if one were to take the strict interpretation of "IBM Compatible PC", that also includes the current x86 Macs, at least until the first Apple Silicon models appear.

I'm pretty sure you know this all :)

Here's what I was replying to:

"Is Apples model outdated by now? Maybe. Should a court force them to practically change their model to the one of their competition? Well, why should anyone buy their stuff then anymore? It would practically made their brand worthless to me, they’d just become another pc shop, the last time they tried that it nearly made them bankrupt.

That time made Apple what it is today, it’s in their DNA. They’ll fight anyone which tries to change that."

This is a very distorted telling of history, and trying to equate Apple with iPhone. Desktop computing has been in Apple's "DNA" since 1976 and continues to be today. Mac sales were $7 billion last quarter. Apple had financial trouble in the mid-90s, but they were doing well in the 2000s even before iPhone came along. There's nothing about the App Store that's essential to Apple as a company.

> Apple was actually the first company which made a marketplace on a non PC device which had a overly cheap way to get your software on it

There were companies before Apple with non-PC software marketplaces, such as Handango.

The PC will never die as it cannot be replaced by locked-down ‘content consumption devices’.

If we want the phone or tablet to become a real alternative to the PC, they need to open up. It’s not just about devs being gouged for 30%, it’s also about the outright ban on some types of app, from cryptocurrency to BitTorrent to pornography.

Actually it is already dying, the classical PC is only used in a couple of places that still need desktops with replacement parts.

Most consumer shops now only sell tablets and laptops, and if desktops are in display they tend to be some variation of NUCs, which are basically laptops in a desktop case.

Those are not the same class of products as modern smartphones.

Whut is a console not the same class? Modern consoles are locked down pc's.

I would argue that they are not, as far as the typical consumer is concerned. Consoles have historically been single-purpose devices, that purpose being to play games. Whilst there have been varying moves across the three big manufacturers to include additional functionality, game-playing is still the single most important feature - you probably wouldn't even call it a console if it didn't play games.

Are cars and houses though?

Cars are houses without the "stationary property" DRM.

> What other things in your life would you accept similar limitation?

I have a Playstation that only allows me to play games that comply with DRM, unless I root the Playstation (if that's even possible). I have a coffee machine, that only accepts cups from a specific manufacturer, because they own the patent. I own a car that only allows me to run maps supplied by the manufacturer and the updates are expensive.

I knew all of this when I bought this stuff. Complaining about the app store when you buy an iPhone is like complaining about the airplanes after you bought a house near an airport.

Just because we are forced to accept such limitations on some devices, that does not mean that it is necessarily acceptable. I own a PlayStation because I want to partake in entertainment exclusively available on the system. That does not mean that I don't get to hate the fact that it's a locked-down piece of crap. I really think they should be forced to open up the platform and not have any barriers for people who want to execute arbitrary code on hardware they paid for. The same should also be true for all computing devices - why should you not be able to change the software in your fridge? It's yours, and the manufacturer should be forced to respect that or very explicitly state that you are actually renting it and do not own it if they don't want to open up the hardware to its owner.

That is the argument that slaves cannot assert their freedom, they can only become recalcitrant slaves because they at one moment in time accepted their slavery.

It's a great analogy, that's why we banned slavery altogether and allowed personal declaration of bankruptcy, we learned from history and it took us centuries to get the slave drivers to comply.

Have we? Gig economy and offshoring practices are mostly disguised slavery.

I don’t think this comparison is apt. At least in regards to slavery in America. Weren’t many slaves forcibly taken from Africa (either by force or by purchasing from parents (and then using force))?

Well I was thinking of King Agrippa counselling the Jews prior to their rebellion against the Romans:

"However, as to the desire of recovering your liberty, it is unseasonable to indulge it so late; whereas you ought to have labored earnestly in old time that you might never have lost it; for the first experience of slavery was hard to be endured, and the struggle that you might never have been subject to it would have been just; but that slave who hath been once brought into subjection, and then runs away, is rather a refractory slave than a lover of liberty; "

So yes a fairly different context.

"Complaining about the airplaines after you bought a house near an airport."

Someone in my grandparent's neighborhood brought that suit and the airport had to pay to install soundproof windows in everyone's houses.

I think there’s a line that needs to be drawn between ‘general purpose computing device’ and ‘content consumption device’

One of these is OK to be all locked down and centered around a monopolistic content store. The other one really isn’t.

Smartphones and tablets have been trying to move from one category to the other, and this is where the problem lies.

The problem is that the difference between those two devices boils down ENTIRELY to the addition of DRM. The only thing stopping a game console from being a general purpose computer are the platform creators preventing you from running the code of your choice on hardware you own.

This distinction is purely arbitrary, user-hostile, and monopolistic, and so it is not worth respecting.

Why should corporations be allowed to trample all over our freedoms just because the devices can be classified as primarily being for consuming content? Should we have no agency in how we choose to consume content?

Also, consoles are sold at a loss. Would be happier with Apple if they too sell at a loss.

Another point - Kindles are also content consumption (and sold at a loss or were) but they still allow me to load any book that I have.

> Also, consoles are sold at a loss.

Which means they're to cheap. Customers need accurate price information or they will buy things that were more expensive to produce than they're worth.

I'd totally pay like, maybe $100 for a smartphone that only allowed Apple approved apps. Maybe $150 if it came bedazzled.

But you don't need to pay for such feature. It's called approved software, with signatures from multiple authorities you can get all sort of filtering you want. That's just not what the manufacturer wants, they want to be the sole authority, treating us like kids with restriction and cows at the same time with this 30% cut.

> Would you accept a house that only allowed furniture, food, books, electronics, devices from the company that built the house? Do you think it should be legal for a company to make a house with those conditions?

Would I personally buy one? No. That doesn't mean it should be illegal to offer such a bundle. You can simply choose not to buy it.

And guess what? According to current US law, as long as those limitations are disclosed to the buyer at the time of purchase, it is in fact, not illegal to offer such a bundle.

Maybe cars can provide a useful comparison. Car manufacturers can't prevent you from using aftermarket parts or different brands of gasoline on a car, and they can't deny warranty coverage because you had your car serviced somewhere else. Phones are becoming even more ubiquitous and essential than cars, so it makes sense to start looking at them from a similar perspective.

Incidentally, Apple tries to treat phones this way and periodically ends up in legal battles over it - get your phone repaired by a third party instead of an Apple store? Have fun with features being disabled by anti-tamper mechanisms, etc. Obviously there are arguments to be made for it but it sure is unpleasant and shows you how they view their customers' freedoms.


Louis Rossmann has a good number of videos on that topic on YouTube - reviews, repair stories, court testimonies, etc.

They cannot deny warranty coverage, but are not prevented from arbitrary hurdles that make it hard to create a compatible aftermarket part. They don't have to make that particularly easy.

Installing aftermarket parts always voids warranty. Also, more and more manufacturers are creating sealed off engine bays to make working on them harder. It's just physically impossible to block someone to tinker with that type of hardware. If they could find a way, car manufacturers would love to block you from modifying your car.

Come to think of it, Teslas are pretty much impossible to modify, because they're more comparable to the iPhone, a fully integrated hardware and software stack. However, to continue on cars in general, I cannot load my own maps into my car navigation. I cannot load 3rd party maps into the navigation. If I want to upgrade the maps, I need to go to the dealership and pay them an ungodly amount to upgrade them for me.

> more and more manufacturers are creating sealed off engine bays to make working on them harder. It's just physically impossible to block someone to tinker with that type of hardware. If they could find a way, car manufacturers would love to block you from modifying your car.

It's not impossible, it's just not cost effective for them to do so. The cost of sealing the engine bay to such an extent that the end user cannot modify the hardware, while the garage can, adds more cost than the value gained to the manufacturer can justify.

If they could do it in a way that was cost effective for them, there is little reason to believe that they wouldn't be doing it already.

That is not true, there are many car parts I can replace without voiding the warranty. Tires, oil, windscreen wipers, seats, car stereo, the exhaust, the battery, the list goes on. You are perhaps focusing on engine parts only. Apple is not so lenient.

It’s not easy to distinguish between legal and illegal tying, but that doesn’t mean that disclosure to the buyer is an adequate defence. More commonly, the seller would argue that they lack the market power of which tying is said to be an abuse. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tying_(commerce)

Yes I should have added the caveat "in an otherwise competitive market". If there was only one seller of houses then the tying would indeed be a problem.

> That doesn't mean it should be illegal to offer such a bundle. You can simply choose not to buy it.

Be careful with that. Consider how prevalent HOAs are (In most areas, you can not buy a house that's not covered by one), despite how much people hate them.

Consider the market pressures that resulted in that state of affairs. Everyone who wants to own a home has to make a bargain with the devil, despite few homeowners actually wanting to do that. It's quite possible that those market pressures will lead to a situation where the choice will be made for you.

People buy homes where homeowners associations dictate what goes in the yard. They pick schools where children are told how to dress and what they can say. There are whole cities who have kicked out strip joints. Those sorts of choices are made all the time and people should be allowed to live in a safe walled garden if they want to. The instant you let a porn shop open next to your school there are going to be issues that most would prefer to have prevented in the first place.

> They pick schools where children are told how to dress and what they can say.

I don't see how the schools are relevant, because parents tell children how to dress and what they can say too. Children have very limited legal rights. But we're not children, and I'm tired of Apple treating us like children.

As for homeowners associations and cities, it's important to note that the residents of those have a vote, whereas Apple users have no vote over how their devices work. (Only Apple shareholders have a vote.) Someone is going to respond "you vote with your wallet", but that's not the same. With Apple, your only choice is "love it or leave it". Whereas in a democratic organization with voting, you have the option to stay and still change how the system works.

Let Apple users vote! I'm all for that.

Easy, don't buy Apple.

If enough Apple users get upset online, that's valid feedback the company should listen to, or risk losing money. I think the numbers are too small though.

Being an informal process that they are not bound to listen to, "online outrage" isn't exactly the best solution. A vote is much more powerful than a voice.

> The instant you let a porn shop open next to your school there are going to be issues that most would prefer to have prevented in the first place.

I think it's less that "there are going to be issues" and more that people fear that there will be issues, and vote to remove what they think of as a threat.

The instant you let someone plant azaleas instead of tulips there are going to be issues that most would prefer to have prevented in the first place.

You could still live in your walled garden if Epic wins. You would just get an additional option of using another garden if you prefer. This is unlike your examples where choices made (strip joints, what goes into the yard etc.) influence surroundings and life quality of others.

I imagine people that want only the walled garden prefer their isn’t an alternative because chances are some publishers will just stop publishing within the walled garden.

Well exactly! And the people who would complain the loudest are the ones here saying they like Apple's curation, want the 30% Apple tax and if developers don't want to pay it can go elsewhere. Then the developers could say, if you want our content come and get it, otherwise stop your compaining, if there were enough of you without apple forcing it, we'd pay the tax to reach you.

Isn't that exactly what's going on already though? There is an alternative, it's called android. Epic has their software on many other platforms, but apparently there are enough people choosing to buy iOS that they felt it was worth paying the "tax" to reach them. Now they're complaining that they're paying the tax to reach the people they wanted to reach. After all, it's not like Apple is forcibly cramming iPhones into consumers hands and preventing them from going anywhere else. iPhones are as or more expensive than high end android devices, they come with well known limitations. Any price sensitive consumer should be (all else being equal) buying android devices where they could play all the fortnite they wanted and Epic could sell without paying any Apple "tax". And yet here we are. Apparently enough consumers prefer the Apple way that despite the abundance of lower cost options, they're still buying iPhones. So what is the fundamental difference between paying the tax because users have chosen iPhones and paying the tax because users have chosen the "Official iPhone Store" in some alternate reality?

You're describing a horrible, terrifying but very likely future. We should fight against it as hard as we can.

If that house or car provides sufficiently compelling features or other benefits then, yeah, I would totally buy one.

Should it be legal? I mean, why not? If you don’t want one, just don’t buy one. There are plenty of other houses and cars out there!

Sounds like a similar situation to buying a house that belongs to a HOA. You pay extra to give up freedoms, but have the peace of mind that you won't have obnoxious neighbors that make your house difficult to sell.

The difference being that (in all cases I'm aware of) you get some sort of representation in the HOA (ie voting on things). Also there are almost certainly limits in any given jurisdiction on the sort of rules an HOA can impose.

One reason for this difference is that HOAs are kind-of eternal. They need some way to adapt to changing circumstances. Whereas things you will only use for a few years, you get to vote with your wallet. (As you do when booking a hotel, or renting an apartment.)

HOAs are becoming ubiquitous. In my area, nearly every home built in the past 20 years is under a HOA, and of course there are older HOAs too. They're generally created by the home builder, not the home buyer.

When I was buying a house, I didn't want an HOA. I hate them. But the options were extremely limited, and it was a seller's market.

I think local governments like HOAs because they pay to maintain certain common areas, so the cities don't have to spend tax money on that. Also, local politicians are all on the take with... surprise, surprise... the home builders.

So when I buy an iPhone I get a seat on Apple's board like I do when I join an HOA, right? I can vote on whether they should change these policies?

In practice, it doesn't matter. Your share would be so tiny that voting with your wallet is equivalent. After all, people usually renew their phones every few years.

By that logic let's get back to monarchy.

Are you serious? HOAs not only do not prevent obnoxious neighbors, they virtually guarantee it.

So now all housing companies start doing that, and we’re living in some unauthorized bread dystopia. That doesn’t sound like a world I want to live in.

Not necessarily - ideally if you don’t want to live in that kind of a house then someone will want your business and cater to you.

I don't want Apple's dictatorial control or Google's privacy invasion. Yet the market is not catering to me.

Or more accurately: the market is reacting to what consumers want. Librem phones exist; they’re just not popular because most people don’t care about privacy.

> Librem phones exist; they’re just not popular because

What's the marketing budget of Purism? What's the total budget of Purism? In which stores are these phones available?

Consumers can't buy what they don't even know about. Popularity requires availability. It requires awareness. These things are very costly. There are huge barriers to entry, especially in the smartphone market.

Marketing budgets are a function of sales too. If even the people that know about them (such as yourself) aren't buying them, they're not going to have a lot of money to pour into marketing.

Exactly. Folks are acting as if the iPhone is the only phone.

>Should it be legal? I mean, why not? If you don’t want one, just don’t buy one. There are plenty of other houses and cars out there!

Easy to say as an end-user, but what if you were a furniture maker by trade? You've been selling furniture for years and then houses start being built that can't use your furniture. Eventually these houses become the largest segment of the house market. Your furniture business goes bust.

>What other things in your life would you accept similar limitation?

You probably have access to only one power company. A small handful of internet providers. And your car example is quickly becoming the reality as well.

> Would accept a car that could only take gas, tires, oil, electricity from the company that built the car?

No. But for some reason I do pay for Spotify, Neflix, Disney and some others and for a bunch of media I never would have before. I can’t use the media from one service in the player from another. Even the Apple TV app doesn’t work that way: it takes you to the DRM holder’s player. Trade-offs.

> Should it be legal to offer such a vehicle?

Yes, til we discover the extent of impact of such a model.

The house example is very interesting. Currently, no, I wouldn’t buy into that ecosystem. However, I am going through a process of updating my views on land and building ownership. I’m tending towards personal home ownership (and land) being anathema to stable society. Call me a communist in this area. So, if houses had “compatible” power and furniture, AND they were owned by commons, I might accept it. We already have standardised power outlets.

The financial markets? Game consoles? Televisions?

What a silly question. You accept limitations on how plumbing, electrical and other matters operate because there is code. You accept limitations because sometimes the environment is a bit of a Wild West, and it’s nice to have someone making sure the software I’m running on the most important device in my life isn’t malicious.

Bad example. Codes mandate how things should be done, not by whom.

If Apple currently sells you a house and you aren't permitted to put non-Apple electrical or furniture in, building codes are the framework by which third parties could be permitted to do so. We're already in the locked down house. Building codes are exactly what we need.

What would that look like? How could Apple ensure that subscriptions made through a third party payment processor are cancelable without dark patterns?

I could say that we’re very often in situations like this.

I buy gym membership but it’s not for me to decide who is the staff or what kind of equipment is there.

I buy a car but I can’t drive anywhere but places I’m either legally allowed or where land owner lets me.

I pay for the medical insurance and I don’t get to choose exact procedures I’m going to be signed to.

I’d say that “I pay but I don’t have control” is common theme. Sure I can switch to other service provider but no perfect providers for any service exists. There are other mobile systems as well.

One interesting thought behind what you wrote is that you compared software ecosystem to utility. I wouldn’t go as far. OS is OS and if you don’t like it you legally can jailbreak device albeit the provider in this case can choose not to support it, which it does.

> I buy a car but I can’t drive anywhere but places I’m either legally allowed or where land owner lets me.

Note that you are not allowed to drive everywhere. You can absolutely drive your car anywhere you want. Including off a cliff if you are so inclined.

This is more akin to shutting off the engine if you are not driving on an Toyota approved road.

And in iOS perspective that's jailbreak. You can have not-supported ecosystem and it's completely legal.

You probably don't know this, but current car manufacturers can stop car from starting if a) maintenance isn't done in a way it should be (see AdBlue) b) maintenance is done with non-original parts

Sure - b) is the premium and luxury segment, but you don't see people raging about this. Because - as with smartphone - it's a choice that they made. iPhone isn't a necessity. It's a choice. If you don't like it you can choose one of many other mobile systems or opt for a dumb phone.

> b) is the premium and luxury segment, but you don't see people raging about this. Because - as with smartphone - it's a choice that they made.

I saw people complaining at HN.

"You can choose other than iPhone" is invalid because it's iPhone/Android duopoly market.

In that case, you lose nothing even if Epic wins: the msot hey can do is set up their own store, and nobody's forcing you to use their store. If there's an app you want to get on a store you don't want to install, just don't download that app. "Free choice" works both ways: you can choose to remain within Apple's ecosystem, and others should have the choice to go out of it if they want.

Well that’s not strictly true because of the effects of fragmentation. A few years ago I could get practically anything I wanted to watch from Netflix; today I’d have to manage subscriptions and search and watch queues and UX across seven or eight different accounts just to get the same size catalog. I really hope that doesn’t happen with App stores too - but it seems to me that Epic is trying to do to gaming what Disney+ did to video content.

If you want that, it is in your best interest that Apple reduces their cut. Content creators shouldn't have to put up with Apple's obscene 30% cut. On the PC market, Epic has been indisputably a boon for game developers. Its cut is much lower and their exclusivity contracts pumped millions into development. Steam could've been in a much stronger position if they took a more reasonable cut.

To the end user who only uses Apple's app store, there is no functional difference between an app not being available in Apple's app store, and an app being available in a different App Store.

If Apple's app store was truly competitive, then Apple would have no problem keeping developers within their walled garden.

Try buying games on PC. I’d love to buy all my games on steam and keep them there. But no, every publisher now wants to run their own store with their own social network (usually one that doesn’t work well). There is truly a difference running one fairly good launcher/store vs 10 different slow start and resource hog stores.

Another example: would you rather listen music on Spotify, Apple Music or would you like to install Sony Music, Universal Music, Warner Music etc and always try to guess which artist is on which store.

I think it is called natural monopoly in economics. And it is one of the more generally accepted[1] economics findings that natural monopolies should not be in the hands of private corporations, but public.

(Obviously one can discuss whether it actually is a monopoly or not given android around.)

[1] One significant exception to this almost universal agreement is of course the private owners of said natural monopolies. Estimating the relevance of their opinion is left as an exercise to the reader...

Natural monopolies are ones where the barrier to entry to provide a service is high. Like a nuclear power company. This fragmentation isn't really in the same category, since clearly many companies have the ability to create a music streaming service or game store with some form of content.

Natural monopolies are ones where having multiple competing services doesn't make sense. Nuclear power isn't, to the extend NPPs make sense it makes sense to have multiple.

Network effects can be and in this case very much are a barrier to entry.

But how many can create a hardware platform like an iphone?

I'd genuinely rather have more options to choose from, and benefit from the competition, than to have only one choice from a company that bans things like GPL apps from their App Store, which is what Apple does.

However, that doesn't mean that that's how the market will pan out with healthy competition. For all we know an app store that really meets its users' needs will win out and have the majority of the market.

> from a company that bans things like GPL apps from their App Store, which is what Apple does.

AFAIR this is not exactly the case.

Software using GPLed code cannot be distributed via the apple App Store because of the GPL clause forbidding additional restrictions. The GPL is incompatible with the App Store license, just as it is for example with the old OpenSSL license. There’s nothing in the App Store rules that forbids GPL code, the restriction comes entirely from the GPL side. It’s a choice the developers of that code have made.

However, if you hold other rights (for example the full Copyright or you entered a special license agreement with the creators of the GPL’ed code), you can distribute such an app via the App Store.

Apple could make exceptions for open-source software. The end result is that Apple will remove software from the App Store if they catch wind that it is GPL, and end users effectively can't use free software on their devices.

How exactly would such an exception look like? The GPL would require that the user can take the binary they downloaded and redistribute it. Or change and recompile it and then run the changed binary. That’s all fundamentally impossible with the iOS App Store.

The GPL is fundamentally at odds with a lot of things, for $reasons. For example, ruby could not be distributed with compiled-in OpenSSL support, until the developers adopted an OpenSSL linking exception.

The GPL or the developers of the GPL’ed software could make an exception for app stores. But the developers have deliberately chosen a license that is incompatible with certain uses, including all app stores - it’s not only the apple App Store that is affected, all consoles for example are affected, too.

> That’s all fundamentally impossible with the iOS App Store.

There's absolutely no reason that Apple wouldn't be able to allow GPL apps legally on their app store. It's just a matter of Apple changing their own terms.

> The GPL could make an exception for app stores

No, it couldn't unless you have a time machine or the ability to get consent from the author every line of GPL code ever written to agree to relicense their code under these new terms.

Apple doesn't even need to make exceptions for the GPL, it could just relax its policy or allow users to install whatever software they want.

That’s not a policy that can easily be changed. It’s a fundamental restriction of the entire system. There is no side loading on iOS devices unless you use a developer account. And that’s not going to change.

The issue with the GPL is not the limitations Apple put in place on their platform, but the additional terms required for distribution in the App Store. This is the reason cited by Adium[1] and VLC[2] developers when their projects were removed for GPL violations.

You can read more about those terms here[2], but they have nothing to do with the iOS security model.

[1] http://adium.im/pipermail/devel_adium.im/2011-January/007973...

[2] https://www.engadget.com/2011-01-09-the-gpl-the-app-store-an...

I don’t see how the “mike gives a copy to Steve who can then run it on his iOS device” can be made to work without side loading (steve can already download his own free copy from the App Store). The FSF seems to argue that this must be possible to be compliant, so yeah, that’s my point.

It wouldn't really affect Apple at all if they allow the sideloading of free apps that are already in the store.

Online game stores are convenient, but I don’t understand why I need to open them and have ads shovelled at me just to use the software I already bought. The app stores integrated into most OSes do not do this. I’d prefer having everything on Steam to running five different bloated game stores, but it seems like a false choice. Why didn’t the old gatekeeper-free business model survive the transition to online distribution?

This is a pretty great analogy and shows why some Apple customers are honestly happy with the current model. Besides, if you allowed more stores, nothing’s going to get cheaper for the customer, Epic will just make slightly more money and charge the same amount and customers will be left with the worse experience. The only advantage of loading apps from anywhere would be to load apps that are banned. Emulators or torrent apps.

> Besides, if you allowed more stores, nothing’s going to get cheaper for the customer

If you allowed more stores, they would have to actually compete to attract customers and prices are a fairly common way to do that. It's exactly what's happening on the PC video game markets with the Epic Store having giveaway and promotions.

So yes, it's pretty much a given that if you allowed more stores it would result in lower prices for customers.

Except 30% is a lot more than "slightly" more money.

Some functional differences may include likely an additional required app for each (more app clutter), more clone products, shoddy knock offs, selling your product far above or below cost, stores without the infrastructure to keep your data private, no UI enforcement (lots of ugly Java), no subscription enforcement (call us and wait to cancel), no app stability requirements (constant restarts and sluggishness)...

An app that does that and is in another app store has no way of affecting users who choose to only use Apple's App Store. No one is forcing you to use another app store.

We don’t want 50 different app stores to install 50 different apps.

But having competitors/alternatives does typically help to bring the price down and improve the customer experience. Another store may take only a 5% cut, so apps can be offered cheaper.

You can argue that for subscription based services of IP content like netflix this doesn't really apply since you'll now need multiple subscriptions. But a big reason these subscriptions have to keep their prices low is because of the free competitor called pirate bay. If it wasn't for the alternative of pirating, we might not ever have gotten Netflix.

Putting to one side the issue of how content producers might feel about a world in which Netflix was the only game in town, I think fragmentation is a much smaller problem for app stores. Consumers need to launch a streaming app whenever they want to watch TV, but they only need to launch the app store infrequently to install new apps. I don’t mind having to think about which app store to use a few times a year.

> In that case, you lose nothing even if Epic wins:

Another commenter put it really well [1]:

A sufficiently powerful company or group could promote a third party app store by negotiating exclusive deals. Imagine a "EpicTwitBook" store being the only way to get Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Fortnite.

Previously those apps were forced to make concessions to be on the iOS store, and I could download "Instagram, the version that makes Apple happy" app.

But now, that version of the app is gone! I google "Why is my Instagram gone" and get an article that says I have to sign up to the "EpicTwitBook" store, and download the "Instagram, the version that makes Advertisers happy" app.

I would prefer the first version but I don't get a choice.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24287421

A) This doesn't happen on Android. 95% of users use the official Play Store.

B) If this does happen, then just make the choice of not installing the app.

> B) If this does happen, then just make the choice of not installing the app.

Why is "If you don't like the app spying on you, don't install the app" OK, but "If you don't like paying the 30% tax for having your app on iOS, don't make an iOS app" not OK?

Because it affects a third party, the consumers who gets less choice. I admit that the tax is not a legal problem by itself, companies are allowed to act selfishly.

It is a legal problem only when the Apple tax becomes anti-competitive behaviour by giving Apple products an unfair advantage (e.g. Apple Music vs Spotify). Apple driving away from the market competitors to its products is bad for everyone but Apple.

How to solve that? 3rd party app stores are workable and theoretically desirable, but that's a solution both Apple and the 3rd party stores will end up hating without fixing the problems (95% of users will still only use the official store; Apple will still hate it because they lose 5% control).

It's better to fix the current store. Perhaps banning use of private APIs by non-system Apple apps and allowing payment system choice would be enough. A more transparent app review system would also help.

> I was not in any way coerced into buying said device, and there are a plethora of other options

My apologies, but I don’t see what options I have? Either I go with Apple, or I go with Google.

Going with Google is akin to giving away all your privacy, going with Apple is akin to giving up all your control. Neither is really a great option, so we need the law to step in and correct what the free market (apparently) does not.

> Going with Google is akin to giving away all your privacy, going with Apple is akin to giving up all your control. Neither is really a great option, so we need the law to step in and correct what the free market (apparently) does not.

Apple is a public company, and face the same pressures to make profit that Google does. If they can't "capture the value" of the platform they've created via the Apple Tax, there's a decent likelihood that they'll be forced (by pressure from their shareholders and the market) to start giving away your privacy too.

So as you say: Right now you have a choice not to give up your privacy. If Epic prevails, there's a good chance you won't have that choice any more.

You can go with a feature phone or you can look at one of the small open-source Mobile OS. Firefox OS springs to mind. No, you would not be able to run Fortnite on those.

There is always the option to go live in a cave and forget about all this shit.

Just like the ones you mentioned it’s not really an equivalent solution.

You speak of false equivalences after equating Android with iOS... There are countless different Android distros. Most Android phones can be unlocked easily and/or are sold unlocked in certain markets. All software components are swappable. The OS can be run entirely Google-free, if you want. The Play Store is default, but optional. Sure, the mainstream hardware manufacturers sell preinstalled Android distros that require a bit of menu diving in order to enable free software installation, but there's little that's stopping you, as a customer.

I do not know of a functionality not available for development on a open source Mobile OS.

I agree that it costs time, effort and money to develop each functionality. I fail to see the choice between only iOS and only-Android. It is not mandated to choose only between these two.

The ”free market” has no obligation to give you good options you like. Common misconception, though.

Politicians and lobbyists (”the law”) are awful at “correcting” problems like this. It’s a total fairytale. We’re better off leaving the out of it.

If that approach had been taken, then Microsoft would have killed Apple completely before the iPhone was invented, and we wouldn't even be having this debate.

Hypothetically speaking, what would you see as the downside of Apple allowing users to install alternate app stores?

Presumably almost every user would just use Apple's app store and be satisfied with that, but for everyone else they'd be able to use their iPhone with much more freedom.

The downside is not for folks like us on here that can make decisions about what is good and what is bad. Apple has invested heavily in creating an experience where the common person with no mental model of how this stuff is relatively safe.

The downside is Mom somehow installs said store, and said store distributes a poker game that does something malicious. Mom blames her iPhone as that's all she knows. She doesn't separate hardware from operating system and apps like we do.

I got my mom an iPhone for this reason. Then she kept locking herself out of it by typing in the wrong password. She lives in an Android dominated country so asking for help around her had varied results, including having her phone wiped and icloud account replaced a few times. In the end I got her an Android phone of the same model as the people around her. When I saw her next I noticed her phone had adware on it. I didn't know adware was a thing on phones.

Let's talk about my mom. When her brother died, she inherited a Mac and an iPad from him. I helped my mom set up the Mac for her, and she was good to go the same day. Whereas she spent many months (it may have been a full year, I don't recall) in a battle with Apple to get them to allow her to erase and reinstall iOS on the device. She wasn't trying to get my uncle's data, she just wanted to use the iPad for herself. Apple wanted a death certificate and all kinds of legal crap.

You don't own iOS devices, you're just paying an exorbitant rent.

Depending on how it's installed (the two ends of the spectrum being either downloading other app stores via Apple's App Store or downloading them from safari) it can cause issues with how Apple's standard of "no malware" stays even when downloading apps via those app stores.

For an example, with alternative app stores it's very likely you could release a jailbreak and have it installable without a computer since most (non-checkm8) jailbreaks break out of the sandbox and exploit their way to root access and installing an dpkg frontend. That's all well and good until someone does the same but hides jailbreak code in an inconspicuous app that initiates the jailbreak in the background, and instead of installing dpkg it installs a keylogger/keychain dumper that sends all passwords to a remote server.

Either Apple will still need to review these, have IPAs notarized, or have contracts in place with each app store developer to ensure the same app review quality. I don't see epic accepting any of these scenarios without a fight.

In your scenario, there's malware in a non-apple app store. So what? It rightfully gets a bad reputation, people presumably avoid it, etc. Those who are more risk averse choose only to use the Apple app store. I'm not seeing the issue here?

If Apple want's to ensure that the platform itself is as secure as possible, that involves patching the underlying vulnerabilities. The presence of a third party app store doesn't affect that one way or the other.

How would mom know about the bad reputation? Download.com included toolbars with their installers (not a vulnerability, just shady) and only in rare blog articles were they called out on it. Multiple sites linked to them as a reputable download source for affiliate money.

The same way she avoids more open ecosystems like android? Presumably, the addition of another app store would be something she would have to actively seek out and do.

> Either Apple will still need to review these, have IPAs notarized, or have contracts in place with each app store developer to ensure the same app review quality. I don't see epic accepting any of these scenarios without a fight.

As Windows shows us, none of these need to be true.

Don’t download random shit from people you shouldn’t trust, and you won’t have malware and/or keyloggers.

"Don’t download random shit from people you shouldn’t trust, and you won’t have malware and/or keyloggers."

If only it was that simple. Apple's audience is not really us. I can't count the number of times, my mother-in-law tried to install random stuff on her PC and me having to deal with it. This is Apple's user.

Apple has 1.5 billion users. I’m fairly certain they don’t only target technically challenged people.

Ditto for Linux and Android. I'm sure I could find a sketchy closed source kernel module somewhere out there that's actually malware. That's not a problem in practice though because I'd have to leave the confines of the official repositories for my OS and intentionally seek it out.

(I suppose NPM could be an interesting point of discussion here though.)

Tell this to the 99% non techie populations

Honestly? I want to pay up front for a device that won’t show me ads. If left to open competition, I’m certain that dozens of app stores would race to the bottom and I’d have an ad and snoop-funded experience on my phone. Apple currently uses their position to prevent this. Sure, it’s for their selfish reasons, but it’s good also for me.

Main downside I see of Apple allowing users to install alternate app stores is that it could probably rescue them from the now tiny and still shrinking global market share they have.

Surely better to just let them finish suiciding themselves?

Personally I'll be sad to see them go, but judging by the number of comments that are encouraging them to continue on their current path (now single digit market share) I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them are really thinking like this.

Like those companies at the edge of bankruptcy like Bang & Olufsen, Ferrari, Bentley, Lotus,.... with their shrinking target market, oh wait.

Bang & Olufsen is actually constantly on the brink of bankruptcy, and has been for very long. I don't think it's been a super profitable company ever since LCD TVs became popular.

Apple have far too much cash to go bankrupt, bankruptcy requires debt that can't be repaid.

But if they carry on their current trajectory they will be a target for a hostile take over by a bigger hitter like Huawei.

So we won’t need to install 50 app stores to get 50 different apps.

Then just don't use anything else than the Apple Store? Why should everyone else have to suffer the fact that you can't prevent yourself from using third-party stores?

Why buy a device known for the creation of a walled garden as one of its defining personas? I didn’t buy into the iOS ecosystem for flexibility of App Stores. I bought like many others because it allows for an ease of use free of tinkering. They have a huge competitor whose differentiator is literally what people are requesting. Why don’t the consumers which need more freedom support the companies who actually want to service that demand?

> They have a huge competitor whose differentiator is literally what people are requesting.

Except that said competitor is actively hostile to your privacy. The device market is also incredibly confusing to navigate - many competing independent companies, unreliable security updates depending on said manufacturer, and a wide hardware performance range.

And regardless, all of this is entirely irrelevant from the perspective of a company that wishes to run their own marketplace spanning every significant platform out there.

First of all, the said competitor is not the only game in town. There are other alternatives- such as feature phones or open-source mobile OSes. If your are requesting an app for such OSes, then you have to find an economic incentive for its development. But there are other alternatives.

Secondly, if you are requesting that one side in the current court (Apple) is forced legally to take a different economic incentive, then why would they remain as privacy-oriented? Times will change. Without the freedom to choose incentives, a company’s structure will change. There are risks to taking Apple’s privacy-oriented approach for granted.

> other alternatives- such as feature phones

Suggesting that feature phones are an alternative in this situation (mobile gaming) is completely absurd. iOS and Android devices are the only option right now for quite a wide range of things.

> then why would they remain as privacy-oriented?

You aren't seriously suggesting that Apple only promotes privacy because of their walled garden?! (Even if that were the case, the fact that a wall proves useful to the owner doesn't imply that it's legally permissible or morally desirable.)

Legion of users across African and Asian countries beg to differ.

In fact for many of them, a feature phone is still the gateway into computing in 2020.

The number of people using feature phones in Africa at least, in my experience, is dwindling very fast, and most people that still use them do so because they can't figure out a smartphone (for example, my grandmother).

Even so, a feature phone is good enough for light gaming and making calls.

> iOS and Android devices are the only option right now for quite a wide range of things.

That is a stretch and I do not accept this definition. On one hand, we have had MeeGo, Symbian, FirefoxOS, QNX, Windows on Arm, even Ubuntu on Mobile phones. It covers both phone functionality and gaming functionality.

For games, there are game alternatives. You can buy games on non-mobiles extensively.

Furthermore, feature phones are covering functionality necessary to work on both games and application stores (limitations vary on model - even if limited to mobile gaming,There are options for that ).

In this varied complex history, why would I perceive as iOS and Android as the only game in town? They never were.

Note that FirefoxOS allowed the tinkering, which would permit all the functionalities . My point is to revive such mobile OSes instead of having to rely on iOS. If someone wants tinkering, FirefoxOS is a case study. Or install Ubuntu on a phone/pad.

Covered elsewhere is the fact that web on iOS/Android can perform the equivalent gaming experience. With the current state of WebGL, gaming on web is feasible.

> ou aren't seriously suggesting that Apple only promotes privacy because of their walled garden?!

Having a cut from app revenues will cover the cost for the infrastructure and give financial boost to the mobile division at Apple. If the financial cut is gone, Apple’s middle managers will not be incentivised to maintain the same level anymore. At that point in time, there will be financial cost to the AppStore infrastructure, but limited financial incentive in maintaining the AppStore/other store integrations.

I claim that restrictions on the iOS application stores imposed from court will result in Apple’s incentives changing to limited privacy. In due time, Apple will start sharing private information just like Google is doing, to fill the gap by the lower percentage revenue. Then we all lose.

The wall is useful for me - this is a wall the owner placed himself. Now the only incentives for the owner are inside that wall. The owner being a set of managers (see Innovators Dilemma for reference).

A third point not covered is the cost per application. The original idea is that the cost per app will be lowered, had it not been Apple. But the list price for applications are driven by what the developer can charge, not the developer’s costs. If the optimal list price for an application is 10$, the price will remain 10$ with or without a change in % associated to Apple. Say a widget costs me 1$ to develop. It costs 3$ to market. I know that my target audience pays 10$ for the widget. Say, if the costs is less than 10$ the audience associates it with bad quality, so 10$ is the optimal spot. ) A new marketing strategy comes up and it costs 1$ to market the widget. What is the price to sell the widget? My target audience associates good quality with 10$ per widget. It costs with 1$ to make the widget, but to serve my audience, what is my incentive to lower the price? I will sell the widget at 10$ at a higher margin of 8$.

I am ready to put good money that Fortnite’s price will increase, at a time in the future when it is all settled to avoid bad PR.

> Why buy a device known for the creation of a walled garden as one of its defining personas?

It is possible to like the garden and dislike the walls. I really like my iPad mini, despite hating the fact that I need a Mac to sideload or develop apps for it. The last time I was in the market for an upgrade, I read that Apple had “no competition” [1]. This problem seems to be getting worse over time as tablet developers concentrate their attention on the iPad. And it affects other markets – when buying a phone, I need to consider whether it will play nice with my tablet. It would suit me to put some restraints on Apple’s ability to use its dominance in one field to push me to buy other products I’m less interested in.

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/21/18274477/ipad-mini-2019-r...

You'll be relieved to know that being allowed to use another app store on the hardware you own wouldn't hinder your relationship with Apple at all.

There are plenty of Apple customers who do want to control what runs on their devices, which is why some people are excited about these developments.

That's fair, but you must accept that the level of control is variable, and you have no say in what it is. It's in the ongoing hands of Apple, not you the purchaser of the product. You're accepting a situation in which, theoretically, you could wake up tomorrow with none of your apps available, including those you've paid for, including those you depend upon, possibly for income. I'm not saying necessarily that such a situation should be impossible, but I think many consumers don't recognise it.

It wouldn’t do you any harm if epic was allowed to set up its own store. You just don’t use it if you don’t want to. Just like any other store. If you don’t like the look of it, don’t go inside. The AppStore will still be there for you just the same as always.

I was thinking about the same thing, but it can (and will) create a situation where each big Corp will have its own store with its apps unavailable on the Appstore obviously.

That will only happens if they gain the credibility to run it. I would expect a lot of people (above poster included, and myself to an extent) will prefer the AppStore for most of their apps. It will force those AppStore’s to compete, for developers and for users. And isn’t that what capitalism is meant to be all about?

Ok, so you keep using only the AppStore and we gain the ability to side-load. There's no loss for you and a gain for those who are not happy with the current situation.

It doesn't have to be an either/or.

But today Microsoft e.g. has to put Excel in the App Store. In your proposal, Microsoft might move it to their own store. I don’t want that. I like that Excel is in the App Store.

Did I miss anywhere on Apple.com explanation for the users that they are a walled garden? If it’s not there, then I bet most people are not aware while buying and simply buy due to the brand.

The solution is to allow multiple app stores. Want the safety that Apple provides? Don't install other stores. Maybe block it in the settings. Want more choice? Install other stores.

This is the argument all monopolies use. If they open up, they cannot warrant the quality. The telecom operators could say the same thing not to open their networks. But at that time there was no consumers defending the telecoms.

There are ways to open up, they already do for Macs. The argument is weak.

Fine. Just use the Apple App-store instead of any other App-store such as Epic's.

Your argument amounts to " My preference is better than yours"

Why can't you still use the app store with it's curation and filtering, and 30% tax if you want, while others skip it and pay 30% less or the money goes to the developer?

I think thats a fetish. There is no shame to it. But I think its important to realize that when it comes to apple we leave the territory of buying phones and entering the territory of bdsm.

Federal law says you can jailbreak your phone or tablet and put whatever you want on it, and Apple cannot stop you from doing that.

The question is whether the law requires Apple to code their OS to make that easy for you. It’s up to the courts of course, but I’m skeptical there is a viable, consistent legal theory available to Epic under current law.

> Federal law says you can jailbreak your phone or tablet and put whatever you want on it, and Apple cannot stop you from doing that.

That's a strange one. In patching security holes, Apple are actively preventing people from jailbreaking their phones. And they should be. So that argument seems ... problematic. This kind of thing was never about making it easy to jailbreak your devices. Actually, it's kind of about the opposite: you should be able to own a device that runs code of your choosing and also have that device not be riddled with security vulnerabilities. (And, despite Apple's bizarre insistence to the contrary, this is very possible).

Correct, apple can either release a phone with perfect software with no bugs, or continue to provide bug fixes (security vulnerabilities are bugs). This is totally orthogonal to letting the owner of the phone run whatever software he wants. As windows has shown, it is quite possible.

And Linux. And MacOS. And, most importantly, Android.

And as Windows has shown, doing so greatly increase the chance that your device will be infected with viruses and all sorts of malware. A problem that Android is increasingly facing as well.

The law says that jailbreaking is legal, but it doesn’t say that Apple can’t stop you from doing it. Apple’s jail is also legal, and you can only break out of it when Apple makes a mistake. I wouldn’t defend antitrust as a “consistent legal theory,” but if Epic wins this case, all iOS users would have the freedom to use alternative app stores, not only those who manage to find and exploit vulnerabilities before Apple patches them.

But the DMCA also prevents you from reverse engineering Apple's software, so although jailbreaking is legal, you are not allowed to work on a new jailbreak.

I think this is the wrong analogy to make. I bought John-Deere farm equipment. Are they allowed to break it remotely if the GPS detects I've resold it or did my own maintenance?

In other words: I bought something in the general understanding it is 'tractor'/'general purpose computer with 4G' but its capabilities are an artificially restricted.

I think it would be in everyones best interest to have such consumer protection/rights from such practices.

Perhaps they should be required to market themselves with a prominent disclaimer saying they are restricting it's normal functions.

Was that a surprise to you? And did you only notice after the period where you can return the phone for your money back, no questions asked?

No. It’s just the best of terrible alternatives.

Well that certainly sounds as something that Apple is to blame for

It may suck that Apple makes decisions about what runs, but if rules are there then I would expect them to be enforced. The thing that ticks me off most about this game of chicken is the timing. Pretty much have 10s of kids stuck at home due to COVID-19 who use this to socialize and who have sunk in 10s of dollars getting their access yanked to what they paid for because Epic didn’t want to follow the rules any more. Epic basically is messing with kids when they could have just stuck to lawsuits.

I am glad Apple is actually managing and moderating their store as opposed to the ocean of fraudulent crapware on Google Play and to an even more extreme extend the Windows Store...

I have never had a single person complain about what they can't run on an iOS device. The apps that aren't availabe are either crapware or if they are useful they only matter to 0.00025% of users who can gladly go get an Android instead.

> I have never had a single person complain about what they can't run on an iOS device.

I personally hate that I cannot reasonably run software _I_ write for _my_ phone without having/using an Apple developer account.

There now you've heard a complaint. I'm sure if you were to pay attention, you'd see this same complaint voiced quite often.

Why is it a problem for you to have a developer account? Can't you deploy to your own phone with a free account these days?

Is it still the case that any app you deploy to your phone needs to be re-deployed every 7 days?

Having a manufacturer-curated channel of apps is great. That channel should not come at the cost of consumer choice or competition.

As a developer and iOS user, I strongly disagree with this. Due to these restriction, iOS devices are toys to me, not tools to use for work.

Yes, there's a lot of crap on the Play Store, but there's also a lot stuff that I don't like about Android that makes me not want to use it, much less gladly.

There is a lot of prohibitions in the iOS guidelines that serve no purpose but Apple's business interest, such as running a "platform" app that has other apps embedded. Of course, if you're WeChat, you get to ignore that rule.

To pass off all this as "security" or "curation" is just dishonest. There's a lot of crap on the App Store too, but that crap can't be as malicious because iOS has a better sandbox, not because Apple does the literally impossible task of scanning for hidden malicious behavior in its review process.

Of course users are not complaining about having no access to apps that were never developed in the first place, because 80% of the revenue is on iOS and going Android-only makes little sense.

Freedom is indeed strong stuff and clearly not for everyone.

You knew perfectly well how applications are installed on that device before you bought it. If you disagree to that just go buy anyone of the other posh 1000$ devices on the market.

It’s not like the ‘00s when you couldn’t buy a PC without Microsoft being involved

Knowing a situation before entering it does not justify or legitimize that situation in any way.

As a person in tech you’re going to understand locked-down devices, code signing, and monopolistic app stores. But does an average consumer (who bought an iPad for the kids to play Fortnite on...)

If you don't like that situation then look around for another device without this limitation. Besides, you can always get a developer account and run whatever you want on it.

Consider that the reason you buy this $1000 device, is that Apple decides a lot what happens on this device.

You what you were getting into when buying an Apple product lol

Yeah but I don’t like it

It's true for every video game console, which have run to up to $600. I'm not sure if $400 makes that much of a difference.

Manufacturers love it. Inkjet printers, coffee makers, cars, vacuum cleaners, laptops. If a manufacturer thinks it can get away with monopolising parts, accessories, and services it will try it.

If Epic does win it could set a very wide-reaching precedent.

On the flip side, the fact that no one has successfully sued manufacturers of inkjet printers, coffee makers, cars, vacuum cleaners, and laptops over this issue should give you some clues as to how likely it is for Epic to win their case.

Philips tried to block other companies from making Senseo-compatible coffee pads. The European Patent Office revoked Philips' patent after opposition of competitors:


And actually in the case of Inkjet printers, the court of appeals and the supreme court ruled in favor of companies making third-party cartridges and refills:


The EU started an antitrust investigation into Apple's App Store practices:


Retaliation, such as this one by Apple, or the recent kerfuffle around the WordPress app are only going to increase the probability of antitrust action against Apple.

The EU cases aren't likely to inform how Epic's case is going to work out in a US court. The European Commission also just lost a lawsuit against Apple so just because they take an aggressive position doesn't mean it will hold up in court.

The Lexmark case was about whether patents right end once a patented product is sold and doesn't seem to be directly applicable here. But note that Lexmark's technological and contractual "post sale" restrictions preventing the reuse of discount toner cartridges were not considered illegal, even if their patent rights were considered exhausted after the sale.

The lawsuit doesn’t have to succeed in court for Epic to succeed. If the case generates enough publicity but ultimately fails, they may be able to lobby Congress for a new law akin to the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act [1]. Then, instead of precedent they might have statutory protection for what they want to do.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnuson%E2%80%93Moss_Warranty...

Game consoles are for entertainment. Phones run our lives. There is a difference in practice, though perhaps not in theory.

I’m not really aware of any console manufacturer other than Nintendo that spends as much effort trying to prevent me from doing that.

Generally I don’t want to do it with my console either, as I explicitly buy it to play games. The same thing is not true for my phone, which is very much a general purpose device.

Maybe it shouldn't be true for every video game console.

But even then --- a mobile phone has analogues with other computing devices that are more open.

Video game consoles shouldn't be locked down either.

In the case of game consoles though, they're essentially general purpose PCs that are sold to under cost with the expectation that they'll make their money back on game sales. I think that's a fair assumption, and of course if game consoles weren't locked down it would open the doors for people to get x compute power for less than it would be worth otherwise.

Whether you agree with that model or not, it's definitely different than the iPhone model where you are paying full price for the hardware, but are limited in what software you can run on it.

Nintendo tends not to sell their consoles at a loss. People criticize them for using older hardware but they make a profit on every unit sold plus their first party titles drive the console sales to a large degree.

If Microsoft and Sony could no longer take a cut of all software sales like Apple does, they’d simply be forced to adapt their business model, perhaps to something similar to Nintendo’s. Gamers would either have to pay full price for modern hardware (less volume discounts) or otherwise settle for older parts. Microsoft and Sony would have to focus a lot more on bringing top developers in-house with exclusive publishing contracts. Life would go on.

Under cost? My understanding is that consoles cost MORE than an equivalent self-built PC, and that the expectation that sells them is the guarantee that the games will WORK. On an actual PC, there's no guarantee that any software works with your particular configuration. That is, consoles standardize system specs, and include a markup reflecting that.

> consoles standardize system specs, and include a markup reflecting that

That's an interesting take that I didn't consider - that console manufacturer can charge money for the guarantee that the games will work.

However, from a quick google, two sites [0][1] have tried to build a PC with the same specs as the PS4 Pro ($400) and came up to ~700.

[0]: https://www.gamespot.com/articles/we-built-a-pc-using-ps4-pr...

[1]: https://modcrash.com/the-ps4-equivalent-pc-build/

The difference with game consoles is that the main reason for locking them down is to avoid piracy rather than controlling what the user runs.

there were a time when game consoles were just a hardware that would run any cartridge that you inserted.

restricting what could run in it is recent.

Not really. After the Atari generation, Nintendo released the NES which was locked down to prevent developers from selling games without paying them first. So regardless of where you were selling your game if it ran on NES then Nintendo got a cut. At first that cut was small but when that market grew they jacked up the percentage enough to cause some arcade manufacturers to leave the home console market for years.

These types of restrictions are all over the place, and I'm not sure if they're good or bad. TVs and audio-listening-devices come built-in with dmca protection, meaning you can't watch pirated footage or listen to pirated music even though you own the device. Is that good? Is that bad?

That's bad, 100% bad. My TV does not need to be playing detective and monitoring every use of it. My car doesn't prevent me from exceeding the speed limit, not does it report me to authorities if I do.

Give it a few more years.

I suspect this was a bit of a throwaway comment, but ...

“EU ruling means speed limiters will be mandatory in the UK [and EU] by 2022“


I did think we had a few more years :/ thanks for letting me know though.

I'm not aware of any such devices? I believe you have that backwards - many (most?) devices support HDCP, a form of DRM (and thus legally protected against reverse engineering by the DMCA). This is supposedly to prevent you from pirating (ie copying) otherwise legally purchased content.

In other words, the claimed motivation is to prevent you from running off a copy of whatever you happen to be streaming from Netflix. In reality though it doesn't seem to be very effective, leaving me wondering why so much time and effort is invested in it.

How would a TV know it's being sent something pirated? I can't find a source on this.

Your game console isn't a pocket-sized multi-purpose computing device with a camera, GPS and more...

Some of them are that and more.

I don't check my console 75 times a day.

There are no studies that demonstrate the absolute ubiquity and irreplaceable nature of a gaming console; there are for phones.

I don't order a pizza with it. Or check my email. Or call Uber. Or read HN. Or take pictures of my kids. Or make phone calls. Or check social media (well... I don't... but over 3 billion do). Or...

There's a way that a "smart phone" (more accurately, a palm-sized computer that happens to make phone calls) is a general computing device - and a critical component of modern life in Western civilization -- that a gaming console is not.

You might not do it, yet all of that has been possible with handhelds for the last 15 years.

Yeah but you would have been on your own. It was never as ubiquitous as it is today. The real world is now very much living on server farms+mobiles, more than ever before.

All this seems like such an immature pointless argument.

in fact i'm going to stop wri

A game console is not a general-purpose computer.

What is the definition of "general purpose computer"?

One that is advertised as not constrained to a single genre of use. Game consoles are for entertainment. Consumption. That's why I can say "game console" and you know exactly what I'm talking about. Smartphones are for anything and everything. "There's an app for that."

I can make calls from my xbox. I can create and upload content. Check the weather...

Not a legal classification.

I'm making a moral argument, not a legal one. Legally Apple can do whatever they want and I give Epic's lawsuit a very low chance of doing anything at all.

Neither are phones.

Apple could sell a brick for $1000.

If one doesn't like it's abilities - don't buy!

Can’t Epic build their own phone? Are their barriers to entry that Apple has put in place to prevent them from building and selling a phone?

surely you jest. Has samsung been able to get a flagship phone sold without android?

Well the point being that the smartphone market is suffering from poor alternative.

If so many people here seems to believe that neither iOS, nor Android, provide both flexibility and privacy they seek market opportunity might be ripe for new competitors.

The issue is that new competitors have to go against... Apple and Google. Given what happened to Epic (retaliation on Unreal Engine after #FreeFortnite), you can be sure that any competitor which would get a little bit of traction would be hammered into the ground by some Apple/Google money-powered shenanigans.

Samsung made phones before Android existed.

Plenty, Symbian, Bada OS before Android was born, and Tizen is a thing in Asian.

Similarly, if I can buy an iPhone from a store (like Target), and it contains a store… why can't I get Fortnite from the App Store then buy V-Bucks from Fortnite?

You can also before leave Target you can pickup a vbucks card that cost Epic 30% as well.

Conversely, if you sell iPhones you only get 10% at most by Apple (Retailers' margins have been reduced to 4.5 per cent from 6.5 per cent, and it further reduces to 1.5-2 per cent if the customer opts to pay by card for the iPhone X).


But on the iPhone, I don't buy V-bucks in the App Store, I buy it in Fortnite, and if Epic can go through the trouble of processing the payment, they deserve all the proceeds.

Monopoly. At some point this will head to regulators

Apple will do just fine arguing that their devices are no different from Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, Roku, Cable Boxes, Keurig, Vzw feature phones. I would be extremely surprised if the courts just up and anti-Tivo’d every device on the planet.

You try to make a case about how phones are somehow special but they’re really not. You have millions of people who only have an Xbox and so you can’t reach them unless you contract with MS.

If you recall, Microsoft got a punch in the nose for their abuse of market power, stuck with billion-dollar fines for it, then more similarly scaled fines when they tried to circumvent the ruling in 2013.

They learned an important corporate lesson, which is why Xbox games can link to external subscription payment options.

Apple have not yet learned this lesson.

Microsoft held significantly more market power at the time of their antitrust case (95%) than Apple currently does.

That did not set 95% as some kind of magic threshold. The test is written as "a dominant position within the common market or in a substantial part of it". The jurisprudence on this actually starts at 40%. Of the $100bn global app store sector pie, Apple have ~2/3 of it.

I am aware of that, however it is much easier to win an antitrust case against a company that has 95% market share.

> The jurisprudence on this actually starts at 40%.

Can you provide more background on this?

You can do worse than start with the, er, "brief synopsis" of the history of Article 102 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_102_of_the_Treaty_on_t....

As one might imagine the full history is a bottomless pit of claim, counterclaim, strong-arm tactics, PR, subversion, argument, opinion etc where the truth goes to die.

You're citing EU law but this case between Apple and Epic is happening in a US court, which has historically held higher requirements for the finding of monopoly power (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24312856). For what it's worth I do agree that Epic would be more likely to prevail if this case was under EU jurisdiction.

I don't think iPhone/iOS market shares in the EU are high enough. I couldn't find a definitive source, but it seems to be somewhere between 14% [1] and 25% [2], the latter in the wealthier European markets.

These numbers also include UK (I think), a traditionally strong market for Apple, but which should be out of EU Single Market by the end of the year.

IANAL, but I don't think that's enough for Epic to have a case in the EU. On the other hand I could see the EU being more likely than the US to regulate these kind of stores, to try to protect European editors against Apple/Google. But the lobbying would have to come from European editors, not from Epic.

[1] https://9to5mac.com/2019/08/12/iphone-market-share-in-europe...

[2] https://macdailynews.com/2020/01/29/iphone-takes-24-3-smartp...

This isn’t about device sales. The market in consideration is the $100bn/yr app-store market, of which Apple has 2/3 globally and around 55% of the European segment in 2019.

Yes, my remark above was about EU fines applied to Microsoft.

What might lead one to think it hasn't already attracted the interest of regulators outside the US? These battles are fought globally.

EU has already started an antitrust investigation into apples app store. Most likely they will get hit with a huge fine.

> The European Commission has opened formal antitrust investigations to assess whether Apple's rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store violate EU competition rules. The investigations concern in particular the mandatory use of Apple's own proprietary in-app purchase system and restrictions on the ability of developers to inform iPhone and iPad users of alternative cheaper purchasing possibilities outside of apps.


The case is not about closed platforms in general, it's about monopolistic behavior. In the US (the legal jurisdiction), Apple is the largest smartphone vendor by far, with ~50% market share. Epic is trying to show that Apple is abusing its market dominance. That's the case.

Apple has 52.4% mobile marketshare in the US[1]

The Justice department has said that more that 50% is generally required to be considered a monopoly power, but 70% is a stronger case[2] (not a lawyer, if someone can parse this better please do)



The PS4 has 58% of the gaming console market currently.

I’m trying to figure out where the monopoly argument comes from. Apple hasn’t demonstrated that they have monopoly pricing power since even the Windows store takes 30% and they’re obviously using their dominance in the smartphone space to advantage themselves in… the smartphone space.

Windows and the Apple App Store don’t complete with each other.

Also, if PlayStation has control of that much of the market, perhaps there ought to be some regulations there as well. Does Sony similarly force all in game sales to use their payment processor and forbid you from mentioning it or encouraging folks to pay you directly?

There shouldn’t be any regulation of PlayStation, because consumers are actively choosing to buy into the PlayStation ecosystem. By the same vein, consumers are actively choosing to buy into the iOS ecosystem. No consumer has been forced into being part of the iOS or PlayStation ecosystem.

You seem to be ignoring the monopoly aspect.

The argument is that when a vendor controls a large enough portion of the market, consumers might not be left with sufficient choice for market forces to prevent abusive behaviors. This idea has significant legal precedent and legislation behind it throughout the entire western world.

The question isn't whether you actively chose to buy into the PlayStation ecosystem. It's whether you had a meaningful choice available to you and whether the vendor is abusing it's market power.

Correct I don't by a Playstation and then cry that Stadia is not available for it.

The % is not enough in itself, otherwise the case would be very short, open and shut. The question is, does Sony abuse its market power?

If console developers are satisfied with the deal, then it's hard to say that it's abusive.

Also, there's no specific % cut that can be said to be excessive, outside of context. In some cases, a 50% cut may be a good deal. It sounds to me like console vendors may be returning better value for their cut than Apple does.

In my opinion as an Apple developer, Apple returns very little value for its 30% cut. I'd be happy to pay 30% if it was worth it, but it's not.

So when someone breaks TOS of Sony store there are no consequences?

To me this is exactly where their argument falls apart.

I don’t get what Epic wants exactly. Even with Android where they initially had users side load their apps they eventually gave up and put it on the Play Store after complaining that there’s too many warnings when users load third party APKs (how dare they include security warnings of un-reviewed apps!)

It seems to me that Epic expects Apple and Google to offer up an Epic App Store/Epic made games in their own App Stores free of charge, and conveniently ignore any developer terms they previously agreed to. Talk about entitlement.

They want platform providers (Apple with iOS and Google with Android) to get out of the way. They are both providing platforms, as well as market places, as well as competing apps/services.

How do they expect those competing platforms to be delivered? If via side loading through a website then we’ve already seen them complain about Google having warnings for that.

If through the app stores themselves then they’re essentially asking for discoverability, hosting, and distribution of their products for free.

At what point does a company deserve the right to compete with you on your own product? If Amazon continues to engulf online shopping can another company eventually sue to have their own store listings put on Amazon with no money going to Amazon?

To me these two situations aren’t that different. Apple and Google have each built hardware and software systems for their services. Other companies like Samsung have developed their own app stores that they distribute on their phones. If Epic wants to be a service provider then there are already charted pathways to doing so that don’t involve suing over service fees you already agreed to.

> At what point does a company deserve the right to compete with you on your own product?

I get where you're coming from, I do -- but the answer to your question is somewhere around "when that company controls access to billions of eyeballs around the planet".

These companies have greater access to and control of people than any government. They are beyond review, beyond accountability, and beyond reach. They are dictatorships controlling access to billions of people, the kind of power that would make any dictator in history blush.

And I am not saying we should take from them all their power. They DID earn it, it's true and most of it is quite benign. But... giving them absolute power over who everyone in the world can do business with, just because they chose to buy that device (probably not knowing what the limitations would be)? For the sake of the future of the entire species I should think that this is not a situation we would consider ideal.

If the companies have become too large then I feel that’s really the responsibility of anti-trust regulators to address rather than the courts making a ruling that you have to let other companies sell their services in your store.

Actually I agree; but right now the US political landscape is extremely, painfully broken :-(

Unless things have changed in the past couple of years it's not just a single security warning the first time you side load an app. On my device, F-Droid can't seem to update apps itself - rather I get a security warning dialog for _every single app_ whenever I do updates. This is in spite of the fact that I approved the initial security warning when installing the F-Droid apk itself and granted it all of the permissions it requested.

In android's case, it's a lot simpler. Epic wants to partner with manufacturers who can preinstall epic's store, which google currently forbids.

So this is step one and they intend to sue for more and more with the Epic endgame of getting the Epic store preloaded on iPhone? I look forward to the never ending news cycle.

They don't want the warnings from Android yet don't want to put the work/money in to build their own OS, even using AOSP (Android Open Source).

If Google's work on Android entitles them to be the only store on all Android-derived devices, what rights do Linus Torvalds and all the other Linux contributors have? Or is Google allowed to monetize their work for free, but Epic isn't?

Both companies contribute to the open commons with open source software and sponsorships.

I think the right for Google to monetize and place restrictions mainly centers around the Play Services which are all tied back into their non open source projects.

You could probably make a reasonable argument that Play Services are specifically designed to undermine the spirit of open source, but theoretically you could build an alternative, and use AOSP however you wish.

If we take Epic at their word, a better deal?

I would also like to run my own store in the corner of Walmart’s buildings. Obviously I can’t force that through a lawsuit or by claiming that wallmart is abusing their monopoly on space in their buildings by only allowing their own store to operate in their buildings.

Why do they have a right to be on the platform?

Think of the iPhone as a mall then - it still gets to pick its tenants by whatever criteria it sees fit (that are not illegal, and fees are not illegal). Epic is not winning this one.

Edit: added the bit about fees.

Sure, but does that one mall capture 50% of all physical good sales nationwide?

This is an issue of monopoly power, which depends on scale. If you use an analogy that doesn’t demonstrate the same market power, of course it’s going to seem absurd.

Without Googling it, I would wager that 3-4 conglomerates own 98% of the malls in the US. So I think it is an apt comparison.

Was curious so I looked it up. Turns out property is really expensive so it isn't quite as conglomerated as you would think.

Because of this, there are about 100-ish large mall conglomerates. Of these, the top 4 combined take as much "mall" as the following 10 entries.

Without doing a proper analysis of the data, at a glance it looks like the sizes taper out pretty evenly so it seems like the "mall" industry has a pretty healthy and varied market.


The mall owner owns the mall. Apple doesn’t own the iPhones.

> Think of the iPhone as a mall then


But there are only 2 malls! Iphone and Android.

Because the comment I was replying to was saying to think of the iPhone as a store... I was following the analogy and expanding on it because I thought it was inaccurate.

You were replying to my comment, which said "The iPhone is not a store."

Ha, you are obviously correct! I stand by my Mall analogy ; )

> Wallmart choose their suppliers, and sets the markup, why can't Apple?

But, at the end of the day, Walmart can't prevent customers from proceeding to Kroger down the street to get the products or deals they want. That's the market regulator of last resort in most circumstances.

You say "Apple doesn't have a monopoly on phones or games". In the broad view, you may be right, but they've spent significant effort in creating a closed ecosystem with non-trivial switching costs, inside of which they DO have complete gatekeeping power. They may not have a full "prevent the customers from going to Kroger" power, but they can basically say "here's a several hundred dollar toll to leave our store, and BTW, we won't let you back in for anything else we sell", which is a pretty high barrier. Is the only available counterweight for their behaviour "drop everything and buy a new $500 phone to express your discontent?"

Google gets out of this with their hands much cleaner-- they can retreat to "Well, you can sideload apps". Epic proved they can make that a viable business that way on Android. But iOS offers nothing resembling that without asking consumers to jailbreak their devices, which is probably beyond reasonable accommodation.

I'm sort of amazed they're so desperate to cling to the no-sideload mentality. Offering sideloading with a lot of big angry red warnings immediately defuses the vast majority of anti-competition complaints, while still being scary enough that most name-brand software isn't going to immediately drop off the App Store. I'd also think it presents a welcoming option for some hobby developers, where even the $100 annual developer fees are prohibitive, until they can show there's enough of a business there to justify going to the real App Store.

Using cost of switching as an alternative would seemingly have ramifications that could be applied to almost everything from Fortnite skins to membership stores to video game consoles to state governments.

Don't Fortnite skins work on every version of Fortnite, regardless of the platform?

I have all $1000s invested in XBox platform but I want to play on the PS4. Can I sue MS?

You could always try and find out! Your freedom to take digital purchases (and save data) between different console platforms is a factor here, and historically some platform holders have actively prohibited it and others have not.

Only recently did Destiny 2 gain the ability to transfer save data between platforms. Oddly enough Epic pushed on this kind of freedom too: They wanted PS4 and XBox players to be able to play together, but Sony kept resisting it. They eventually pushed hard on it in public and got concessions so everyone can play the game together now. Now other multiplayer titles from smaller studios also can offer cross-play.

Platform exclusives like a spider-man outfit or playable character are still typically locked to your PlayStation, though.

I don’t want to play on the PS4, I want to play PS4 games on the XBox!

> Is the only available counterweight for their behaviour "drop everything and buy a new $500 phone to express your discontent?"

No. The counterweight is not buying an iPhone in the first place if side loading is important to you.

That does not fix the problem for content creators, who have to target the nearly 50% of the US market that's on iOS. I'm sure everyone at Basecamp would prefer to use androids, but they just can't be competitive with other e-mail services without releasing the Hey app for iOS.

This is part of the problem; there are entire industries now that rely on mobile device deployment. It would be untenable and unreasonable to say "hey you don't like it, F off, just don't deploy on iOS, you can always willingly give up access to over 1 billion users you know". It just doesn't even sound reasonable.

In those industries - mobile gaming is one, a $150 billion a year market reaching a whopping 50% of all mobile users across platforms, that requires presence on iOS if you want to build a business in any serious way.

This is where Apple is going to have a really, really hard time avoiding an accusation (and judgement) of antitrust. They literally control industries. This means that they probably have to give up some control of their platform.

Content creators don't have a legal right to demand to distribute to a specific smartphone any more than they have a legal right to demand to distribute inside Walmart.

> Content creators don't have a legal right to demand to distribute to a specific smartphone.

That is the exact scope of the anti-trust case here, and unless you're the most preeminent expert in the field I'm not inclined to take your word in whether they have the legal right or not.

Well maybe they should

> You can't force someone to sell something they don't want to, especially because Apple is nowhere near a monopoly...

The case is going to not about that. The case is going to be about Apple not allowing developers to tell their users that they can buy subscriptions and in-app goods for cheaper through alternative payment mechanisms where Apple cannot take a cut. Payments is what is this is about (also see the FB release today).

Apple doesn't have to sell anything it doesn't want to but what it's doing is also preventing apps from telling users where they can buy these goods outside of Apple store unless Apple is offered a cut.

This behavior has a high chance of failing on anti-trust if it goes to a jury trial which is what Epic is trying to force (and likely others like Facebook will join or also sue) because Apple store is the only way people can install apps on iOS.

Yeah, it's really unfair that the farmer got so angry when I was banging his daughter while staying at his house.

I don't think I should have to listen to the farmers rules when he's got such a sweet daughter there.

I think this is a surprisingly good analogy. Let's make it explicit (now in two ways) -- the daughter here seems to represent iPhone owners.

So, getting to the crux of the disagreement -- the way you've stated it, fair enough. What about when the farmer is actually the owner and landlord of just over half the homes in the US? Assuming enthusiastic consent from the daughter to [play Fortnite], it's not so reasonable to require her to "just move into a property your dad doesn't own", especially if the 50% he owns make up the nicer half.

There's a bunch of other places you can take this analogy. I like Epic as a pickup artist here -- in it for their enjoyment, not any caring for the daughter. And some users (daughters?) have chosen to live on Dad's property precisely because he gets to keep the less savory types away, even if it means they have a more limited choice of partners.

At the end of the day, I'm personally against the farmer-baron (thus, temporarily and uneasily allied with the pickup artist). It's the daughter's body, and I believe she should be able to make her own choices. Partiarchy is one solution to unsavory suitors, but I don't think it's the best one.

I think you're missing the signed agreements by all parties involved not to do the thing that the farmer is angry about.

You're just going to ignore contract law because lots of people wanted the thing, but not to do what they agreed?

The point of the anti-trust regulations is that some of these kinds of contract terms become illegal as market power increases - particularly contract terms around using dominance in one market to unfairly gain dominance in another market.

Otherwise for instance you could have a dominant employer in your town (eg. A factory town) write into your employment contract that you can only buy household groceries from their own supermarket etc. These kinds of things actually happened at one point in history before the anti-trust regulations.

A lot obviously depends on definition of the "markets" which is what anti-trust cases in practice largely revolve around.

That's not what Apple is doing here, the rules are: 1) don't portray our fees in a negative light if you want to do business with us, 2) don't actively try to subvert us in our own garden where you are a guest.

Where is the monopoly here?

The service Apple has, is appealing to customers because they're aggressively protecting what is important to them, and using their fees to ensure they've got the resources to actually vet software, prevent abuses of customers, and make payment seamless.

If you don't like that, you're free to find software in many other forms.

But you don't want that, you want to have someone provide you all that, but without having to you know, pay for it.

Which is why the internet is an ad supported shit hole, and this is one place that is actually pretty great for customer experience.

The part which will i think likely be found anti competitive will be not allowing app publishers to advertise or provide alternative payment mechanisms for in-app good & services being provided by them while being the only way to distribute apps for the iPhone.

This very easily can and will be be argued as using dominance in one market (distribution of apps) to extract value out othet (in-app services, books, gaming, movies, sheet music...). There's easily demonstrable consumer harm because buying the exactly same sheet music on a iPad is a few dollars more expensive than buying it on the same app on web and using it in the iPad.

Of course Apple can and probably will make the argument of "movie theater concession stand" (ie. your "in our garden" comment) and will probably make the "safety and security" argument just like concession stand owners will.

However, that analogy is very weak legally i think because iPhones are not really Apple's property (unlike concession stands on theatre property) since they're clearly sold as hardware and is off their books (EULAs not-withstanding - they're not enforceable).

So I think what will happen is Apple will lose this case and will be forced to stop preventing advertising and offering of alternative payment mechanisms by Apps - maybe with some terms and conditions for safety certification by neutral third parties.

I don't really think the remedies will stretch beyond that - but payments is what this fight is about.

So if the adult daughter and you want have a relationship outside the farmer's house, they should not be able to do that?

Even if they lose, they win. "Oh you can't play Fortnite on IPhones" is a seriously bad place for Apple to be. Don't even get me started on "Oh you can't use the most popular game engine to make games for IPhone". It'll shift market share toward Android, where presumably some users will learn to sideload and save Epic some money.

My thoughts exactly, games matter to buyers. If users know they save on in-game purchases then they will sideload where it matters, e.g. Fortnite.

Am getting an Android phone the next time, which is about the only effective thing a consumer can do about this.

More likely it will shift market share to consoles. Epic will still lose their 30% cut and Apple will still sell what they did before. I do not foresee “can play Epic Games” as a phone marketing strategy.

> phone marketing

I find it interesting that we still call those “phones” when for a sizeable part of the population they are mostly portable gaming machine to kill time when they’re bored.

Not Fortnite, of course, more easier games.

This is like in Amazon sold a fridge and said you can only shop at Whole Foods. Epic wants users to be able to shop at stores other than Whole Foods, not to be carried at that store without a markup

> This is like in Amazon sold a fridge and said you can only shop at Whole Foods.

So why would anyone buy such fridge? And if they do, there clearly are other benefits, which you omitted.

My wife is absolutely obsessed with getting the latest iPhone when her current device (Android) either breaks or otherwise stops being useful. Her reason? "It's the best phone". Why? "Because it's super expensive". Why? "I don't know everyone says it's the best phone."

It would surprise me if any conversation about why to buy an iPhone ever went deeper than that, 99.99999% of the time. The HN crowd is absolutely an exception to the typical buyer.

Does your wife approve of you depicting her this way online?

In what way? The same way most people think about what phone they're going to buy?

In no way have I indicated she isn't intelligent. She is. She just doesn't care to know that Apple uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon blah blah blah processor and investigate in depth their app store policies before buying one. And why should she? None of those things tell her "can I send pictures to my friends on Facebook? Can I check email? Will it work on my wifi?" And why should she wonder those things?

What might blow your mind to think about is that her position is the rational one. We can't all be experts in every decision we make. While we might be tempted to (incorrectly) think that more information will inform a better decision, that is not always true and it can lull us into false confidence to believe it is. We rely on "crowdsourcing" knowledge and recommendations (we are, after all, social creatures, and our success as a species is 99.99% predicated on that sole factor) and that is what we do in many many areas of our lives.

I think you may get better answers after she buys it.

Sure, there are reasons people buy products with restrictions. But if there is harm to consumers, antitrust regulations can be used to prevent predatory business practices

Because when it was launched, this was the only fridge in town. There is no inherent benefit that survives now except familiarity and laziness.

People are buying it today, a lot are first time users, without legacy data.

Most iPhone purchases in usa today are not based on careful evaluation and comparison with other phones. Otherwise us iPhone sales would be in line with the rest of the world, who were introduced to smartphones with other devices.

Look at other markets to understand what a legacy free smartphone market share like like today.

> Look at other markets

Other markets are very price sensitive, there is no new iPhone choice below $100. Where people do have a choice, point stands, many choose iPhone and pay premium.

UK 45%, Australia 40%, Germany 30%.

That's not true. Apple has had a budget model every year for several years now. Nobody outside the USA buys it in any volume. Why? Because it is irrationally priced based on that phone's capability.

The truth is, if you want the best phone on the market, in any single area (battery, camera, screen, apps, usability, design) or all of them, it is not an Iphone. The only reason USians cling to their Iphones is because they are familiar with it. They are stuck with SMS and Imessage. People are risk averse and would rather pay more for something they know.

You cited the stats yourself. Do you think Germans are more price sensitive than Americans? Search for "poorest state in USA", and Mississippi comes out as one of the poorest in terms of median household income. That number is $44,717 for 2018. Now search for "iphone market share by state" and you end up on this page[1]: For iOS, the most popular states were Connecticut at 73 percent of respondents, Missouri at 72 percent, and Mississippi at 71 percent. Median household income in Germany is $46,278. But Iphone share is 30%.

Are you saying that marginally richer Germans are more price sensitive than the inhabitants of Mississippi? To the extent of flipping the market share exactly opposite of 70-30?

The remedy in this scenario is to simply not buy Amazon fridges, not have the government step in and force Amazon to change its fridges. Legal intervention should not occur unless Amazon was the only fridge seller in the world.


Would you please stop posting in the flamewar style? We've had to ask you many times. The snark here is not cool, and you've crossed into personal attack and did it again in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24313573. We ban accounts that do these things. If you wouldn't mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and taking the intended spirit of the site more to heart, we'd appreciate it.

Nothing I said has anything to do with price fixing and collusion, so I am not sure why you are bringing it up.

> Facepalm.

This kind of snark is really unnecessary.


You've added a number of details to this hypothetical scenario that weren't actually in the original scenario I was replying to. Let me go ahead and agree with you that if two companies have colluded to fix prices, then regardless of how big they are the government should indeed intervene.

Apple has a monopoly on distributing and selling mobile apps to customers that chose to carry an iPhone.

You can't distribute or sell mobile apps to a large percentage of the US public without going through Apple, and they should definitely not be allowed to prevent anyone from doing that (for reasonable terms, which means no 30% tax).

The fact that this is even a discussion is pretty ridiculous: if Apple were a person, their behavior would lead them to be ostracized from all communities and have no friends.

If it's not illegal, the law needs to be changed.

Microsoft didn't have a monopoly on computers, yet it was guilty of pushing all their users to use their apps over others.

Apple and Google are the only major phone OS's. If they control what you can install on your phone, they have a monopoly.

> Wallmart choose their suppliers, and sets the markup, why can't Apple?

You're really comparing setting up a physical store to building world class operating system and phones? Almost anyone can set up shop and start selling things that Walmart isn't, or from suppliers who won't deal with Walmart, but it's not how tech worms. You're living in a different reality.

Microsoft had a monopoly over the operating system market (95% market share).

> If they control what you can install on your phone, they have a monopoly.

That's not how monopoly power is (legally) defined.

Apple seems to prevent a company from having a line of text in their app that says: oh, by the way, you can purchase this texture pack or that asset on our website. I think it's the key to the problem. It seems difficult for Apple to argue that it is not anti-competitive.

They aren't a monopoly. Being a monopoly, is the first test that the courts will implement.

That depends on the definition of the market. Big Co.s under antitrust scrutiny like to present themselves as being just small parts of some huge markets, like Jeff Bezos recently saying that Amazon is actually not that big when you compare it to _all_ commerce in the US. But that doesn't make it less incredibly huge in e-commerce. Apple with iOS is in a much clearer situation though. Simply put, they have an _absolute_ monopoly on app distribution on iOS, and iOS is part of a powerful duopoly. Americans still can choose buying outside of Amazon (though maybe less conveniently), half phone-owning Americans can't choose anything else than the App Store.

This is new legal territory. I was talking to an Silicon Valley antitrust lawyer today. There are no clear precedents in this area. Whatever is decided here will affect many later cases. So this case is being followed closely by lawyers in the antitrust community.

Is this tying? We don't know. It's not a form of tying that's come up before. That doesn't mean it's not tying. Antitrust law is very general. This case is taking a different path than most antitrust cases. The plaintiff is asking for an injunction. It's not about money damages. It's going to be very interesting.

Tying in general is insisting that customers buy thing B, which they don't want, to get thing A, which they do want. The term "B picture" in movies comes from such an arrangement. Exhibitors had to run B pictures to get A pictures. That was knocked down by a lawsuit from Syufy, who went on to build dome-shaped theaters in Silicon Valley such as the ones near Google HQ. At one time the film studios owned many of their own theaters, which is why you see big old theaters named Warner, Paramount, or Fox. That was ended by an antitrust decision.

Tying cases are rare. You can look them up.[1] They come in many shapes and sizes. Examples of tying include trailer park operators requiring new land lessors to purchase a new trailer from them, similar cases involving marina boat slips and boat maintenance, Visa requiring merchants accepting their credit card to also accept their debit card, telcos requiring or deceptively inducing customers to pay for inside wire maintenance, and the one people here may remember, Microsoft bundling Internet Explorer with Windows.

It is definitely, as the judge said, not a slam dunk for either side.

[1] http://app3.naag.org/antitrust/search/advSearchCivil.php

>> You can't force someone to sell something they don't want to, especially because Apple is nowhere near a monopoly in games or gaming sales, they can just point at steam.

I think this depends on the basis of the rejection. If you can prove that they are not selling because of discrimination then you can force them. The question how can you prove it.


I doubt Apple could or would really want to ban the Unreal engine, right? I guess at some point Epic could create a new Apple account again (perhaps after some court order by a judge) and just continue testing their engine on devices. They don't need to release games themselves on the AppStore, as long as 3rd party devs can release software based on the Unreal engine on the AppStore.

I think what Epic wants to see gone is Apple's condition that IAP sold on the AppStore should be priced the same on any other outlets (e.g. websites, Play store, etc...). And I can see a judge agreeing this is unfair of Apple to ask.

As for me, I mostly like the idea of the AppStore. As a consumer I feel more confident downloading software from the AppStore as compared to e.g. the Play store. What I don't like about the AppStore is that discovery of new products is very hard. And there also doesn't seem to be an easy way to look for apps that are ad-free or that becomes ad-free by paying a 1 time IAP fee.

App Store takes the same 30% as Xbox, Sony, Switch, Target, Walmart, Walgreen, etc... Purchase a console game at Walmart? Walmart takes their cut after the console creator took their cut. In fact if you think your game is gonna sell like crazy that you press (DVD/BluRay) 1 million copies, you are in debt to the Console manufacturer for their 30%.

Retailers take far less than 30%. Consoles provide first-party QA, disc/cartridge manufacturing and distribution, bandwidth, and customer service among other services. Whole apps on the mobile stores also have similar services provided by the platform - testing (nowhere near as rigorous as consoles), discovery, bandwidth, customer service, etc. In both cases, a large cut can be reasonably argued for.

IAP is nothing more than moving money around, in an app the user has already discovered and downloaded, that will affect a user's account on the developer's servers. The service to the end user is indistinguishable to what is provided by any other payment gateway for ~3% (Stripe, Square, Paypal, etc.) Your card is charged and you have something new in the app.

The only reason I can think of for why IAP takes the same cut as whole apps is that most if not all apps would be "free" but open up to a screen that makes you pay for the app via IAP to take advantage of the reduced fee.

This could be mitigated by ToS restrictions preventing this exact situation, but there would still be a ton of gray area like "pro" versions of apps.

Opening up to third-party payment processors for IAP would create a vacuum in one of their highest margin and most consistent revenue sources so they won't be doing that willingly. Opening up to third-party stores would be more tolerable but any sufficiently large developer will move to their own store and do everything themselves and pocket the ~27.5% (if they are their own payment gateway, interchange fees are ~2.5%)

It's an interesting situation because the platforms want to be paid for all the services I listed above, but in Epic's case they already have the infrastructure to handle everything on their own, and they offer a fully-featured game for free, with the only source of revenue being a conversion of actual money to V-Bucks.

There is no place where the platform can provide a service that Epic would get any value from, but they are imposing a 30% fee in the only place they can, payment processing.

Retailers don't get 30%. Not even close. Try 0.5% or something like that. As for MS, their cut on the MS app store is 5%. 30% is just really really steep, and I think consumers would win if that got reduced.

Retail is not the place to compare markup. The lowest markup I saw recommended was 10%. Average was 20-30% and big box was at least 40%. There is no guaranteed win for consumers at all as prices are set what the market will bear.

I strongly doubt that, I’d bet prices would remain the same and Epic would pocket more

Part of the original thing was Epic offering a discount of 20% on V-Bucks if they processed the payment through Epic instead of Apple.

The end user got a nice discount and Epic still pockets more because interchange fees are ~2.5% and not 30%.

The Epic Games Store had a similar strategy, cut the fee for devs and incentivize end users to move onto their platform (weekly free games). They still make a boatload of money even though it's not as much as Valve's money printer.

In general I see this as a great thing for devs (indie in particular) if it triggers more competition to bring platform fees down across the board.

Epic isn't being overtly greedy with end users (yet)

I don’t know about that. I could imagine it going both ways. But even if Epic pockets more, there might be other apps which pass on the savings. And if not, well at least you can now subscribe to Spotify and Netflix directly on device.

apple has never ever targeted that kind of gaming market. there are a lot of video games you cannot play without bootcamp on a mac.

i wouldn't be surprised if it turns out they have been trying to jettison the fornite group. it's just not consumers they want to have on their ecosystem.

mobile game discovery is big pain point for devs as well, and that none of Apple/Google seem to do anything about is frustrating. This is in sharp contrast to, say, steam, where discovery is something they are constantly trying to improve.

Funny cause both stores (App and Play) are always promoting games to me. Usually crap like Fortnite which stinks on any mobile device. Yes devs have to pay for those promos but just like in Steam, Retail and all the console markets you pay for marketing.

Yes you can pay for promotional spots on both mobile stores and steam, but that is not to say that they are remotely similar in terms of discoverability.

Discoverability would include things like a recommendation algorithm but also filtering features, promotional spotting, social graph relevance (do my friends own this game? do they want to?) and general UI accessibility, to name some factors.

Steam has put so much work into making sure users can find a title (regardless of that title's marketing budget) that fits their arbitrary preferences that they are now LEAGUES ahead of mobile stores on that metric.

One example that is easiest to point out is the main carousel (and entire front page) of the steam store. Everyone's carousel is customized to their profile and will show both old games and new based on an algo that weighs your preferences against a title's relevance and performance metrics.

The irony that google, a company that made its name in SEARCH, has an app store who's discoverability is so abysmal that i can't find certain titles without explicitly typing in the name or digging through 100s of "more titles like this" lists is not lost on me.

It's just really bad. The game categories are too few in numbers, and there's no tagging to speak of so finding something remotely hybrid is a pain and the categories themselves have become unhelpful.

> or set a precedent that's going to screw every payment provider in America and open a flood gate for fraudulent payments. ... > but surely it's going to set all sorts of nasty precedents?

Just going to comment on this part.

Supreme court decisions has a long history of making very narrow decisions, and in that question there is a clear out that they could use. The precedent can be that apple can refuse epic if it is in order to prevent fraudulent payments, but not in order to enforce a 30% tax in an online market place. That would narrow the decision down and allow payment providers to operate like they do now, but not apple. It would also not force wallmart to stock "mom & pop" random ketchup brand, because it would not be a online market and the purpose would not be to enforce a 30% tax.

Courts have a lot of room to narrow decisions down based on intent, on circumstances, and even the outcome on the specific market as a whole.

> If Stripe can claim Wells Fargo doesn't want to process porn payments, and that's legal, how can an American court rule for Epic?

1. Stripe is a minor player overall. Lots of other credit card processors

2. Stripe is not preventing you from collecting payments from your customers. You can use a different payment processors.

You can load vBucks directly through the Epic website now. Apple is not preventing that. They are preventing advertising it on device and bypassing their on device payment processing. All Epic needed to do was disable in-app purchases like Netflix did if they wanted to get their money directly. Customer wants to get vBucks. Epic support site says go here. Inconvenient? Certainly. But it is clearly delineated who you are giving money to and how. You are leaving the app ecosystem and entering the open web with the need for additional caution. Short of a warning pop up where you need to type your passcode I would not want less from the current system. Say Epic decides to auto bill you every time you open a loot box?

> You can use a different payment processors.

And you can use a different device to play Fortnite; for instance, a laptop/desktop or an Android tablet w/ sideloading capabilities.

You might be able to, but not every consumer can. You're presenting a fundamentally different argument than a business changing which provider they use to collect credit card payments.

The mayo comparison doesn't hold. People go to multiple shop. Apple only allows one shop.

It's definitely the first step of a fight. It's hard to know what the end game is for Epic, but there's several possibilities I can think of: - moving towards gettibg their own app store, they did this move on computers already. Apple and google start to get under scrutiny for their monoply. - being on one platforn using their games to bargain the 30% cut on android (android is bigger user base than iphone and users who mainly play there game can change phone). Now that apple did the move of removing all epic games, it makes this bargain more interesting. I know that Epic sued Google as well but but it can always be settled or dropped.

> The mayo comparison doesn't hold. People go to multiple shop. Apple only allows one shop.

It would hold up if you said Costco or Sam's Club instead of Walmart. People who pay for a Sam's Club membership do a large amount of their shopping at Sam's Club. Sure they could go to other stores, but that's significantly limited.

Also, people can play Fortnite on their laptop or their Android tablet.

There's no walmart or sam's club where i live so I don't really know what you're talking about, but to buy one product i definitely have multiple choice, i don't have to join a club or something. On my computer it's kinda the same, i can install software from several sources. I buy games from several sources., i don't need to buy a new computer...

If I understand correctly, the difference is that apple owns both the store and the payment processor, and require exclusive use of the payment processor (with associated uncompetitive fees) to gain access to the store. This would be somewhat akin to Wells Fargo also being in the business selling porn while not processing payments for anyone else who competes with their product. In the current climate, it seems unlikely a judge would rule against apple for anticompetitive behavior, but there are several reasonable cases to be made that this is anticompetitive and even anticonsumer.

>Epic are obviously going to lose, and lose hard, or set a precedent that's going to screw every payment provider in America and open a flood gate for fraudulent payments.

Users have always been (and still are) subject to all kind of fraudulent. It is about the freedom to do whatever you want with your computing device. The idea that Apple has an absolute control of what goes in into their mobile devices, and that they can claim whatever policies they see fit scares me.

Neither apple nor anyone should have this control.

It's hard for me to feel scared about the control a company has over a product I can choose not to buy. Of course I do think you should have every right to jailbreak/root your device and vendors should have every right to cease updating or warranty repairs in return.

Personally what I find scarier is courts and other govt institution deciding what products companies are allowed to make or sell me.

Epic has installs on phones which paid the iPhone tax. Those can't be updated and are made worthless, causing damage to Epic. Removing an app in violation is one thing. Removing them as a developer and preventing them from updating apps which have been paid for may violate something, somewhere. I'm sure Apple's contract absolves themselves of all responsibility, but there is at least some argument there.

That's the best I can come up with. Personally I won't run an iPhone.

Walmart and Apple are not equivalent examples. A better analogy for the iphone would be your house. Apple sells you a house and then takes a cut of everything you buy for it. It's able to do that because you can only buy stuff for your house through their shop. To a very meaningful extent your house is not your own despite the fact that it is your property.

Someone commented that it seems unlikely that Epic gets a legal victory out of this, but they may get a legislative victory. It's very possible Apple will win the case, but all the App Store fights that have been in the news more or less every day recently should at least be looked at when the US and EU consider new regulations.

How about- it goes to EU/US's court for anti-monopoly and dominatory behaviour and Apple is ordered to separate it's HW business from SW business and allow other "appstores" as well?

> The more I think about it the more absurd this is. It's as if some random brand of Mayo is suing Wallmart for not stocking their brand on their shelves.

Yes it is, but they would have a point.

"How can an American court rule for Epic?"

It's unlikely, but In an EU court, it's a different kettle of fish. Maybe Epic's play for a favourable ruling in Spotify Vs Apple in the EU?

Personally, I think that the concept of monopoly must be reevaluated in the context of the digital age we live in.

Our current definition simply was not made with digital in mind.

If I can buy groceries, flights, concert tickets, and random Amazon items without paying an in-app fee, why I can't I buy game content?

If I can buy in-app content in an iOS browser, why can't I buy it inside the app? (Because some app makers have decided they would rather make it unavailable inside an app than pay the Apple tax.)

This is fundamentally consumer-hostile behaviour.

Of course Apple will argue it has to vet apps and in-app content.

And then all a lawyer has to do is point to the various exploits and it's game over for that argument.

Fortnite players on iOS might move to any other device instead to play, where Epic has lower commissions. That's a win.


> Hint: it is around 51%

And if you look at App Store revenue share, which is probably more relevant in this case (developers need to target the platform where the revenue is), it's closer to 70%

I don't see a way in which Apple is abusing its monopolistic threshold within its competition. Apple slides in at 45% of phone purchases in the US market. That's 122 million people choosing something else. Now, that's not marketshare, but Apple has convinced consumers that their product is worth the markup - clearly evident by the increased marketshare.

I don't understand the desire to regulate a business that has clearly demonstrated value in a highly competitive market - if you don't want an iPhone, join the other 122 million Americans or 2.3 Billion people with an android.

_You_ may believe

> Q.E.D. Apple has monopolistic power in the U.S. and needs to be dealt with.

but by and large, monopolistic control and anti-trust cases are only brought to court if they are used to negatively impact consumers. In Apple's position, they believe they are doing the better thing for the consumer. If their argument holds water in court, then who is the US government to tell Apple if that business strategy is sound? If the market wants something different or better, then it will decide.

Things would be different if Apple were attacking other platforms, but instead, they're simply moderating their own.

I think your point are all valid.

The real question is: Can Apple prove that they are the only one that can provide a store that will keep their customers safe? Because that's what this is about. Epic wants a different store, Apple will argue that they are the only safe store for iOS.

Yea, I just don't understand Epic's endgame here. Even if they win, Apple will never let them back on the AppStore. They sued them! If I owned a grocery chain and one of my suppliers sued me, I would never choose to sell their products again in my store, regardless of the outcome. Suing someone is like burning the bridge. What is Epic hoping for here?

Unless they are counting on the judge actually forcing a store to sell Epic's products, which would be a very scary precedent!

I would note that Apple and Samsung sue each others pants off over patents, but while their legal departments are fighting it out, the operations folks are making deals where Apple buys billions of components from Samsung for use in their phones. This despite the fact that those phones compete with Samsung’s phones. When two companies are engaged in mutually beneficial relationships, they seem to learn not to take the legal stuff personally.

s’all business

> Apple will never let them back on the AppStore.

Apple's statement today: "We hope that we can work together again in the future".

Also, Apple requested that Epic submit a new rule-compliant version of Fortnite.

I think Apple would be happy to have Epic back and paying 30%, which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It won't break Apple if they don't get that money, but it's still nice money, with little work required from Apple.

>with little work required from Apple.

Outside of the billions of dollars and a decade spent developing and marketing a platform on which Fortnite can be consumed.

Sure, the platform takes a lot of money to create, but the marginal costs of adding or subtracting an individual developer in the App Store are almost nothing.

> We hope that we can work together again in the future

That doesn’t surprise me at all. Apple wants 30% of that sweet sweet pie.

I don't think this fight is 100% rational here. There is a good chance they will only lose money. It seems like Tim Sweeney is taking it personally, he is rich enough and has enough power at Epic to take the risk. As an indie game developer I can tell you that the AppStore is a pain and everyone would thank Epic if they manage to break or even change it, at this would lead to a large domino effect.

> I can tell you that the AppStore is a pain

In what sense is the App Store pain?

This well written article is a good starting point: https://medium.com/@mail_85203/being-an-ios-developer-must-b...

Epic’s endgame would be allowing consumers to install multiple stores on iPhones just like you can install multiple browsers on Windows.

Instead of thinking about this in terms of physical stores try to compare it to Netscape vs Internet Explorer.

The harsher that Apple retaliates, the better Epic's court case. Apple is playing right into his hands.

I keep seeing seeing assessments in this vein but they can't really be right - the courts would have to be toddler-level naive not to see through it. They aren't - here's Judge Rogers addressing Epic at the recent hearing (as reported by Sarah Jeong):

"To Epic: Your client created this situation. Your client does not come to this action with clean hands ..... in my view, you cannot have irreparable harm when you create the harm yourself."

What I think is happening is Epic is trying to force a jury trial on anti-trust and won't hold out for a settlement unlike Amazon and Netflix. At this stage all Epic's actions are geared basically around collecting arguments to bring in front of a jury composed of regular folks.

I'm very confident the old Steve Jobs emails from the eBooks anti-trust case will also be brought into the trial to argue anti-trust is in Apple's DNA.

That's also the reason for that silly 1984 ad parody, so they can bring Apple's original 1984 ad into the trial and make an argument of hypocrisy in front of the Jury - once they were plucky upstarts but now as the most valuable company, they're vampire like etc.

Other vendors are also at this same time taking the opportunity to test Apple store rules limitations - either for Epic to be able to add those additional arguments to their own case OR possibly for them to get standing to join the suit - look at the PR yesterday around Facebook donations to creators hurt by Covid being blocked by Apple store rules.

In this situation, there's very little role the judiciary can play except move the process along. It's going to be a fun battle to watch.

Epic can’t force a jury trial on anti-trust (Sherman act violations) - only the US government has standing to even file that kind of suit. What they can do is sue for damages due to breach of contract or similar bad faith which is a risky and not hugely convincing position.

You’re quite right that they want a jury trial and to put on a show. But legally this is just a business dispute and arguably one that Epic engineered. I wouldn’t be surprised if the case was simply thrown out for that reason.

> Epic can’t force a jury trial on anti-trust (Sherman act violations) - only the US government has standing to even file that kind of suit.

Are you sure? How do you explain these cases?

Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc., 551 U.S. 877 (2007): https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/551/877/

> PSKS filed suit, alleging, inter alia, that Leegin violated the antitrust laws by entering into vertical agreements with its retailers to set minimum resale prices. The District Court excluded expert testimony about Leegin’s pricing policy’s procompetitive effects on the ground that Dr. Miles Medical Co. v. John D. Park & Sons Co., 220 U. S. 373, makes it per se illegal under §1 of the Sherman Act for a manufacturer and its distributor to agree on the minimum price the distributor can charge for the manufacturer’s goods. At trial, PSKS alleged that Leegin and its retailers had agreed to fix prices, but Leegin argued that its pricing policy was lawful under §1. The jury found for PSKS.

Copperweld v. Independence Tube, 467 U.S. 752 (1984): https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/467/752/

> Thereafter, respondent filed an action in Federal District Court against petitioners and Yoder. The jury found, inter alia, that petitioners had conspired to violate § 1 of the Sherman Act, but that Yoder was not part of the conspiracy, and awarded treble damages against petitioners.

More cases are listed under "United States Supreme Court cases" in this Wikipedia article:


Yeah, but the thing is Epic is trying as hard as they possibly can to get into their own monopoly position. They want to BE Steam and the App Store, not to destroy them. They can't do otherwise, as a giant corporate entity.

It makes things interesting but the notion that there's anything heroic or even helpful about what Epic is doing, is real dubious. I think the best argument one can have is that one always wants some Epic around snapping at the heels of whoever is currently the Establishment. That's not the same thing as wanting them to prevail, because then you have to ask 'what are they going to do when they are in that monopolist position that they so obviously want'.

There won't be a jury trial. It will be decided in Apple's favor on summary judgement.

Just some thoughts; I actually found this phrasing really interesting, because clearly “you cannot have irreparable harm when you create the harm yourself” is provably incorrect.

The judge won’t let this influence the decision on not extending the injunction to the Epic Games contract with Apple because of an earlier point, which is that two separate contracts exist. It’s interesting that this has been addressed with this flimsy follow-up argument.

Obviously the court shouldn’t let this influence their decision because it was a calculated move, and it’s assumed that Epic is fine with the harm it causes them to make a point. Nonetheless it’s causing them financial harm, which may in the long term be irreparable if in the meantime their player base on iOS shifts to different games.

So all in all, it is a calculated risk but irreparable harm is indeed one possible outcome. Whether Apple takes any responsibility in this depends on how the court decides in the case however. Even if their behaviour is judged as uncompetitive, that may not automatically mean that they’re at all at fault here.

The judge is using "irreparable harm" as a term of art. What he's saying is you cannot have standing to sue for irreparable harm that you inflicted on yourself.

You can't deliberately crash your own car and then go to court demanding the manufacturer give you a whole new one because the crash revealed a loose screw.


Epic's motion had several parts. The judge denied Epic's motion to be restored to the App Store. But the judge did grant a restraining order to prevent Apple from closing all of Epic's developer accounts. That was the retaliation, and the judge said it fit the criterion of irreparable harm.

If Apple had simply removed Fortnite and stopped there, they'd be in a better position legally, and in terms of PR.

I'm not any sort of expert in this and can't really re-litigate what happened at the hearing. It can't be the case, though, that Epic is pulling some clever Grand Admiral Thrawn Hyperpoker move here if every commenter on the internet along with United States District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers can tell what it is after about 3 seconds thinking about it.

The strategies on both sides are fairly obvious. On Apple's side, the strategy is to make an example of Epic, in order to dissuade other developers from becoming "rebels" too.

It all depends on who ultimately wins the lawsuit, and that's up the in the air. It's a fairly high risk strategy on both sides, but it'll pay off for the winner. Apple is probably confident (perhaps overconfident) that they'll win in the end.

The strategies on both sides are fairly obvious.

If that's the case, the thing you said in your original comment and what I'm taking issue with seems very unlikely - that "Apple is playing right into his hands". For this to work, everything happens to be obvious to everyone except Apple and the court who are somehow inexplicable naifs.

> that "Apple is playing right into his hands". For this to work, everything happens to be obvious to everyone except Apple and the court who are somehow inexplicable naifs.

For Apple, the stage is set, and they are merely players; they have no choice at this point but to act the way they are because if they don't they lose the consistency argument. So while they may see through the strategy, they're also bound by it, because they have to enforce their terms -- lest other developers get "uppity" and think they can do this too.

They also want to demonstrate what it takes to fight them, the amount of money that will be lost, because that too will have a chilling effect.

Honestly the only way this works out for anyone is if Epic wins a slam dunk because otherwise Apple elegantly demonstrates that their control can never be broken. I think it's possible they win some concessions; the slam dunk though... much less likely.

> the only way this works out for anyone is if Epic wins a slam dunk because otherwise Apple elegantly demonstrates that their control can never be broken

Not necessarily. Even if Epic's solitary actions aren't enough to break Apple's control that doesn't mean more developers acting in tandem can't swing the balance of power. Microsoft and Facebook have already mumbled that they are in support of some of Epic's complaints. If those two try to force the issue now as well, and if more developers in general take a stand together (even Google has reason to join in; Apple Music doesn't use Play Store's IAP for subscriptions on Android while Youtube etc is forced to use AppStore's IAP on iOS), I think Apple might just blink first...

You're not wrong; the path you're describing is the longer/harder one though.

Incidentally it's probably the more permanent one, too.

I suspect that he with the largest market capitalization wins: hence the attempt to hashtag against Apple and make up a social movement in opposition to it, as if Apple was Big Brother practicing totalitarian oppression.

The Apple side of the argument can be expressed as 'on this platform (that you can buy into), who gets to take your money over the internet?' Exerting oversight over their walled garden and taking a cut of revenues means they take very real responsibility over the situation of 'taking your money over the internet', which they're apparently fine with. We buy into that scenario when we are Apple users: there's a point of clearly defined accountability that we take for granted, and we expect any bad actors to be handled by that point of accountability.

Epic's like, 'no, there should be many points of accountability. Or at least, well, US'. We've already got that platform, and it's Android. People still choose to hang out in the Apple walled garden even though it costs a premium to do so, when Android is RIGHT THERE and lots of people are prepared to make it a very appealing proposition (I use Google Fi as a cell provider, but on an iPhone. There's functionality I would have if I went with a Google phone, and the phone would cost less)

I believe that Apple is making Epic's case stronger. However, the case is still very much a wildcard. Epic could lose, and then they've risked everything in order to get nothing in return. If Epic loses, then everything is on the table, including losing all of their Apple accounts.

I believe that Apple has other reasons for acting as it does, which are not necessarily directly related to maximizing its chances of winning this specific case.

This doesn't make anyone a naif. Every party in the situation is playing a different game, not the exact same game. Sometimes your hand is just forced by the actions of someone else.

I’m wondering if the point is to get politicians attention with this, since it coincided with the antitrust hearings on Capitol Hill. If they could get some lawmakers on their side, regardless of what the courts decide, the law could be modified to give Epic a more favorable position in all this.

Remember that Tencent owns about half of Epic. Once this dispute is resolved, if Apple were to try and “punish” Epic, they could encounter some pressure from the Chinese Government. There seems to be a lot of dependent relationships involved here.

Apple already tried to punish Epic. They removed all of Epic's apps from the App Store yesterday. And they tried to terminate all of Epic's developer accounts, including accounts for Unreal Engine, which was only stopped by a court's temporary restraining order.

> In the short term, Epic loses money by not having Fortnite on Apple devices.

Will they though? For all the players who already had the app they still have access to Epic's payment system meaning they're making 20% more on those transactions. I'm not sure that new user purchases will be > 20% they make in the short term from those existing users.

An important part of this is that as far as I can tell, most AAA mobile games now ship all but the most fundamental "code updates" as updates to interpreted scripts/data files over the Internet, bypassing the App Store update mechanism. (Where does data end and code begin? That's a philosophical argument that historically Apple could look the other way on for high-performing mobile games with weekly or even more frequent event releases.)

Part of the calculus must have been that Fortnite was stable enough, especially from a low-level and netcode perspective, that it could do without needing App Store updates to remain cross-play compatible in the medium-term.

Apple's iOS ToS specifically forbids downloading and executing code by the app. (with a definition of "code", and "execute" somewhere in the document)

While you could technically hide this from them during the review stage, apple can stop any app from functioning on any iOS device connected to the internet by revoking the certificate, if they discover it at a later stage.

Are there noteworthy apps that break this term in the wild?

This clause is impossible to apply to games.

Any level of a game contains at least some logic like NPC behaviors, event triggering etc. and I'm sure scripting is a standard component of every single game.

Have you heard of Thimbleweed Park? It's basically a VM executing an adventure game language (like the creator's SCUMM VM in the past).

That's on the App Store.

Now if we specifically look at the downloading part, that would mean games on iOS cannot download new levels, which I think is done by a lot of games.

The clause is impossible to apply period. It's undecidable.

I don't think my original comment was clear about how I view the ToS as a hammer Apple made for themselves to wield. Not for the good of anyone, but apple.

Their goal here being to cover their ass and have a rule, that you already "agreed" to follow, to point at when they want to get rid of your app. Apple's legal tech has always been years ahead of their electronic tech, I'm honestly curious to see if epic's got some sort of counter to apple's usual legal shenanigans.

In the court hearings, Epic explained how they implemented their payment processor change addition without catching Apple's notice. The app simply asks the Epic servers for a list of payment processors available to display to users, and at review time it was only the Apple one. A week after the update, they added another entry to the DB, and now there's a second option, without modifying app code.

The Simpsons game regularly downloads game updates, and much to my chagrin because the updates are gigantic.

This is extremely common in games, less so in productivity apps.

But it allows downloading and executing interpreted code. See paragraph 3.3.2 of Apple Developer Program License Agreement.

So you can have significant portion of your app in say javascript, which you can update OTA.

E.g. react native apps have most of their functionality in js and can use services like code push to update themselves without app store and it doesn't violate Apple ToS.

The new Fortnite season 4, which should be very profitable, will not be available on iOS.

Plus no new customers on iOS.

~25% (straight line) of their customer base churns to a new iPhone every year [1].

Those customers will no longer be able to download Fortnite.

[1] https://9to5mac.com/2019/02/08/four-year-smartphone-upgrades...

They might now buy Android devices instead. It goes both ways.

Which would be a huge indication that Fortnite is a key feature.

However, it seems bubble colour is important.

"Why'd You Push That Button - Why do iPhone users judge people with green text bubbles?"


That must be a US-only thing. In the rest of the world everyone uses WhatsApp/Telegram/Viber/etc (WeChat in China) and iMessage is not popular at all.

That's not always true though. Although WhatsApp is very popular here in South Africa, I use iMessage most of the time because most friends/colleagues/family have iPhones.

And honestly I have switched off notifications on WhatsApp (I cannot recommend this highly enough!) so that's the only quick way to reach me. I am sure others do the same.

Your bubble is not representative of South Africa mobile market:

    Android 85%
    iOS 15%

Indeed. Of course it has to be pointed out that 70% of the population can barely afford a smartphone, so they get the cheapest ones, which are obviously not going to be an iPhone.

wow, that's an interesting dark pattern i hadn't encountered before!

That’s not what “dark pattern” means. Dark patterns are designed to cheat or deceive.

The blue bubbles are quite useful because it lets you know if your message is being transmitted encrypted or not (green SMS bubbles mean effectively cleartext).

I was referring specifically to the claim the podcast made that non-iphone messages were subtly made to look ugly or out of place

I thought it was also off Android right now.

No, it's only off the Play Store. But you can still download and install it from elsewhere. iOS is unique in that you can only install apps through the store; there is no side-loading.

Sideloading by developer access and by jailbreaking are things.

Does the former require paying $99/yr to Apple? If so no thanks.

And as for jailbreaking, the last time I jailbroke an iOS device was many years ago, and it never worked 100%. Every time I rebooted the damn thing it had to be connected to a computer to re-unlock it again. I don't know how the experience is now but it was terrible then. I haven't bought an Apple device since because I like the out-of-the-box ability to install whatever random stuff I want.

You don’t need to pay anything to develop on your own devices.

OK so can I use this to install Fortnite? How? And does it mean I need a Mac computer in addition to my iPhone?

What are they going to buy? All the new content is on the other platforms.

So the court case will wind up being a moot point.

This is a technology forum, so speaking of technology... maybe there will just be some radical streaming or delivery innovation, compatible with Mobile Safari today, that could really change the state of at least games and movies on iOS. I wonder why that hasn't happened sooner.

They have the app as long as they don't have to reinstall it (new or replacement phone)

Perhaps that works for epic as well, giving apple customers an incentive to move to a platform that allows side loading?

Nobody sideloads, especially not kids

Kids are technologically clever, and so long as one of them figures it out it's gonna virally spread to the rest of them. That's certainly how it was for me in school.

So, I suspect that lots of people are going to be sideloading in the very near future.

If my young cousins in a 3rd world country are any indicator, sideloading will lose its "fear factor" because these kids are doing insane things with devices these days, stuff I wouldn't have been able to nor had any will to do in their day. Even more so the ones in 1st world countries!

e.g. I agree with you.

Definitely less "insane things" these days than back in the day. I remember jailbreaking Sony PSPs for all my classmates in middle school :D Later when iOS became big, the only common "insane" thing was app store account sharing.

They're also fickle, so if you lose momentum for long, your target audience may move on.

I don't think that is quite right. Fdroid and the Amazon app store are two prominent examples. While they don't have the same impact as the first party store, they also aren't Fortnite.

Even if Epic doesn't "win" this, I just hope that this whole debacle results in an overall improvement of market practices in general down the road, including Google Play and console stores.

Ideally, the sooner people realize and escape from Apple's tyranny the better.

> I don't think Epic ever intended to release the new Fortnite season on Apple platforms.

Epic probably doesn't care much about Apple platforms.

80% of Fortnite players are on console. I doubt macOS accounts for more than 1-2%.


Sure but a fair few play on iOS. If Apple user revenue didn't matter to Epic why would they have even started this to begin with?

For the same reason they’ve pushed Epic Games Store on PC - they take 5% of gross revenue as royalties for any product that uses UE4 and lower fees charged by distribution channels makes that easier to swallow for both larger and smaller studios.

Mind you, this is pure speculation on my part - but given they consider that 5% royalty paid as part of the fee for every title sold on EGS it seems likely that their goal is to sell more licenses, not just to cash in on Fortnite.

There are other App/Game stores. I think this is the first, but XBox/PS maybe in the future.

I wonder what percentage play exclusively on iOS though. If big spenders will spend on whatever is convenient it could be easily worth it to stop them from spending on iOS and get the cut back.

To serve as a warning to others

In court, Apple claimed that iOS payments are 12% of total Fortnite revenue, just for reference. It's not a death blow, but it's definitely impactful.

How can Apple know the total Fortnite revenue? Is this public knowledge?

As far as I'm aware, it isn't, but it could have been part of the filings for the temporary restraining order. The number is from this coverage of the hearing by a tech/legal reporter. https://twitter.com/sarahjeong/status/1298031302357082112?s=...

You're completely ignoring iOS. Fortnite has been in the top 5 top-grossing games on iOS for over a year now making insane amounts via IAPs.

And ironically Epic is mum on all those consoles that take the exact same cut that Apple does.

The iPhone is merely another console. Really hard for me to see why this is controversial, or why Epic thinks that Apple can have a monopoly over their console while somehow Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo don’t...

There's two possibilities.

1. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have all negotiated smaller rev-share agreements with Epic. Maybe this is in exchange for marketing or console bundles or something else that improves the health of the platform. 2. Epic thinks they can use any victory they get out of Apple to force game console manufacturers to do the same thing.

Personally, I think it's the latter - Epic's ultimate goal is to get their hands into the game distribution pie. One of the things Epic contemplates in the lawsuit is "we want to run our own iOS app store in competition with Apple's App Store". You bet their ass "Epic Game Store on Switch" is going to follow if they win the Apple lawsuit.

(For the record, I happen to want Epic to win, though I don't want EPIC to win. I hate locked-down hardware.)

You are correct in one critical way: there's no way in hell Epic would try this shit with console manufacturers. You know how Apple tried to threaten developer tools access and basically tried to take UE4 users hostage? Yeah, imagine that, except console manufacturers have far more leverage. First, console is Epic's core business; second, console developer access is very strictly guarded. Had the courts not enjoined Apple from revoking Epic's UE4 developer account, they could at least have hypothetically continued to support iOS customers.

This isn't true on console: the developer tools are confidential and highly guarded. So, instead of "we might revoke your dev account access", it's "give us back our devkits, delete all your copies of our SDK, delete any UE4 code that uses that SDK, and stop selling UE4 on our platform". Epic wouldn't be allowed to support PS4/Switch/Xbox developers in any capacity. Just the mere act of a licensed console developer asking an unlicensed engine provider for support with the console SDK would constitute a breach of their confidentiality agreements.

Not to mention the chilling effect it'd have on adoption of unreal engine for next gen consoles. Just the existence of a Sony v Epic lawsuit, would have devs rethinking what engine they use for playstation 5.

> And ironically Epic is mum on all those consoles that take the exact same cut that Apple does.

No, they aren't: https://mobile.twitter.com/TimSweeneyEpic/status/12732765485...

> The iPhone is merely another console.

Really hard for me to buy this is a good faith argument. The iPhone has never been marked nor positioned in any way similar to consoles. User & developer expectations are not remotely similar here.

Maybe they chose the smallest market to fight this and set a new precedent?

> The harsher that Apple retaliates, the better Epic's court case. Apple is playing right into his hands.

Courts almost never evaluate specific cases based on broader patterns of behaviour... they are always narrowly focused on specific issues.

This might help in the media/social media debate, but I doubt it helps much in court. The bigger piece Epic bites off the harder their battle will be.

But the specific issue in this case is whether Apple is an abusive monopolist.

Apple is proving that they are.

I agree, and while I don't think there's a great chance Epic wins in court, I think now is a great time for them to highlight Apple's deeply unethical practices around the app store: they are both stifling innovation (in what an app store can do or be, see Microsoft x cloud, but also see how long it took Apple to develop subscription payments) and pocketing money they really haven't done anything to earn (rent seeking)

Ultimately, I think lawmakers are going to have to be the ones to address this, and it's disappointing they don't seem particularly interested in investigating Apple's app store practices

> The harsher that Apple retaliates, the better Epic's court case. Apple is playing right into his hands.

Meanwhile, https://www.macrumors.com/2020/08/24/apple-stock-500/

Unity is also making a play on this, portraying the Unreal Engine as an unreliable choice because of Epic's erratic actions, and in their court filing Epic themselves complained about people leaving them in droves.

(Incidentally, when I try to Google "Epic says people leaving in droves" all the results are about millennials leaving cities.)

How are Apple's stock prices relevant?

^^^this. Apple appear to be determined to prove that they are monopolists who will use their monopoly power to screw over devs. While apple probably could have got away with suspending just epics developing account and definitely could have got away with just suspending fortnite, attempting to cripple all devs who use unreal to create their games and other products was an idiotic idea, and a textbook example of abusive monopolistic practices. Also epic, because of fortnites success, are absolutely swimming in money and have other revenu streams on desktop and console that that they can survive and prosper on. They're also tapping into an increasing resentment amongst devs, but also political actors about the amount of power apple et al wield.

I agree.

I think Epic doesn't care much about losing iOS and MacOS. Epic wants to bring public attention to the issue and reiterate the idea that Apple is against the gamer community but Epic is fighting for them.

In either case Epic wins. They wouldn't have gotten into this otherwise.

Disagree. Epic's battle against Apple seems to based on ulterior motives. They agreed to the App Store terms of service after all. If Epic were to win it would set a terrible precedent whereby contractually requiring payment is unenforceable.

I am wondering how much Apple/iOS would be harmed by Unreal Engine goes away. Are they much better than the alternatives? I don't know.

They won't all the big companies release FPS on iOS are using their own engine (EA, Activision, etc). Using Unreal Engine for a casual mobile game is like buying a Ferrari to get some groceries 2 blocks away.

They all use Unreal engine

Could you provide any info showing that Apple was definitely going to block all unreal engine powered iOS apps from the App Store? Ideally definitive evidence.

Apple was not going to explicitly block Unreal Engine from the App Store, but instead they were going to terminate a different Apple Developer Account that Epic uses for Unreal, hindering them from developing it on Apple platforms.

Ah. Epic International. If apple has blocked that other account, would it have removed all Unreal Engine powered iOS apps from the App Store, just like all Epic games are now removed from the App Store?

I press this question because IMO that would be a serious tactical mistake on Apple’s part, and it’s surprising that Apple would make it (even incidentally). The judge’s injunction may have saved Apple from itself.

But I don’t know if it’s true that all UE iOS apps would be removed, if Apple terminated that other account. It seems like no one has given a concrete, conclusive answer.

It’s like blocking all apps that happen to use the leftpad library. It’s not those apps’ fault for what Epic is doing with Epic Store. It’s completely unrelated. And it would be worrisome if, by Apple’s decision, all businesses who built their futures on Unreal Engine were put out of business overnight.

No. Even if Apple terminates the 'Epic International' account - nothing will happen to existing Unreal Engine games on the store by other developers.

The issue is that Epic will lose access to Apple developer tools and will struggle to maintain Unreal Engine going forward and as such that may hinder development of those games in the future.

There's no indication or reason to believe Apple would manually remove all UE based games (because it wouldn't be something they 'revoke' and all UE games stop working).

Why would they struggle to maintain Unreal Engine? The developer tools/SDKs are free to download and you don’t need a developer account for that. All they will lose is access to pre-release tools such as betas or the Apple Silicon transition kit. It just means they might not have a release ready on launch day, but should be fine after that as the tools are made public.

You can't even run a hello world app on iOS device without signing it with a developer account, and the restraining order that blocks apple from terminating epic international's developer account is just temporary. There is still chance that epic will lose developer account needed for developing unreal engine. You can run unsigned code on iOS simulator, but the simulator lacks many api and can't replace running on real devices (unlike Android emulator that can emulate almost everything a real device does).

> You can't even run a hello world app on iOS device without signing it with a developer account

What on Earth... Is this the same for Android? I come from the web, and this sounds like madness. You need to login to write code?

No, on Android you can sideload anything. (Do you not use smartphones at all? How do you not know this?)

This hasn't been true for iOS either for the last N years, AFAIK you can sign apps for free to load on your devices, but the signatures are valid only for a week, so you have to reload the apps at least every week.

> AFAIK you can sign apps for free to load on your devices, but the signatures are valid only for a week, so you have to reload the apps at least every week.

Guess where the key required for signing the binary comes from? That's right, it comes from your apple developer account, automatically downloaded and provisioned by xcode when you hit the build button. Without a developer account you won't have any valid key to sign the build, even for debug build. Afaik the only way to skip this is to jailbreak your device so it can run unsigned binary.

To run on the simulator or build towards a simulator target you don't need anything.

But this is with a free account you can register for anyone, with semi fake personal data even

It's not the login. They need to sign the binaries with that account, otherwise those won't run on an iOS device.

The theory was that apple might revoke their ability to use the developer tools/SDKs (Broadly, this is what was stated in the letter saying their developer account would be revoked, even though you don’t need a paid developer account to download some of that stuff).

Xcode, the SDKs, etc. are licensed, not open source, and probably contain clauses allowing apple to terminate the license.

Beta versions of iOS and macOS are largely behind a developer paywall as well.

They wouldn't be able to publish OSX binaries.

No, all Unreal Engine apps wouldnt have been removed. But it would be harder for Epic to develop the engine, and other developers would be less inclined to use the engine knowing development would be impeded.

Well, how could Epic continue developing unreal engine for iOS without a developer account?

>Well, how could Epic continue developing unreal engine for iOS without a developer account? I thinl this nicely sumariges whats wrong - why the hell should one need an account somewhere to develop software for an OS!

Thats a totally arbitrary limitation and as nicely illustrated by Apple - very very dangerous.

You need an account to develop for Xbox, Sony and Switch.

Sure and while that's still bad IMHO, for general purpose devices this should simply not be required ever.

I can develop and distribute software for my tablet (Android), Notebook (Linux/Fedora), gaming PC (Windows), smartphone (Sailfish OS) or e-reader (Kobo) without the need to open an account with a third party and be at their mercy.

Sure, in some cases a repo system account can make things easier, but I can just as well put the source and binaries on a website and any users wanting to use that will not be needlessly hindered by stupid OS maintainer policies.

The issue is not necessarily that you need an account, it's that punitive action is being taken against this other related account as a form of coercion/arbitrary punitive action. Imagine if your Gmail account was deleted because you made a nasty comment on YouTube. It would be a clear abuse of administrative power.

IIRC the Gmail & Youtube example is actually true - they are all a single Google account and if it gets blocked due to one service, you loose everything.

> Apple originally wanted to terminate the developer accounts of both Epic Games and Epic International, a separate account linked to Epic's Unreal Engine used by third-party app developers, but a judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing Apple from doing so.

But this it just a temporary restraining order, right? Not final yet? Epic's future on apple ecosystem is not clear yet.

Why would they need their own account to just develop the engine? They could use any employee's personal account, or a third party partner company's account, anything

Apple is know to cracking down abuse of developer accounts, so they could ended up playing cat and mouse game with apple. Also, the dev tools are probably licensed in a way that you can't use it legally after getting kicked out of apple dev program. Maybe epic can get around this by divesting unreal engine into a separate company. I think it's already done that (unreal is under epic international), but as apple was considering taking down epic international's account too, maybe that too is not enough.

You can use Xcode and the SDKs without even having an account! A free account is required to sign code temporarily to run on test devices. Apple shouldn't even get to know what is being signed.

Apple might be cracking down on people who sign apps for others as a service, publish signed stuff online, etc. but they literally have no way of preventing development of anything.

Interesting how every big dog is attacking Apple as they continue to be the lone-wolf in enabling privacy and a secure platform for their users. Apple users are mostly computer illiterate because its Apple’s mission statement to enable computing for everyone. Because of their ease of use, they are now targeted to open up their platform in ways that will jeopardize both their increasing user-privacy and user-security.

Non-Apple users are also mostly computer illiterate, though.

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