Three questions that will decide Epic v. Apple

The three questions raised by The Verge’s Alex Castro:

  • Is the exclusive App Store a necessary part of iOS?

The heart of the case is the so-called App Store tax — a 30 percent surcharge Apple collects on purchases made through the App Store. Fortnite was kicked off the App Store for dodging that tax by installing its own payment system, which is forbidden under App Store rules. Now, Epic is making the case in court that the rules should never have been put in place.

  • How is the iPhone different from a PlayStation?

One of the biggest challenges for Epic is that the App Store model is fairly widespread. Consoles like Xbox and PlayStation operate on basically the same playbook, delivering games digitally through an open but curated digital store that’s locked to the hardware and controlled by the manufacturer. That alone doesn’t make it legal, but it adds credence to Apple’s claim that the App Store lockdown isn’t trapping consumers. If you don’t want to play Fortnite on an iPhone, you can play it on a console or a PC. Some devices come locked into a specific distribution channel and some don’t, giving users the chance to vote with their feet.

  • How much control can Apple exert over its hardware?

Underneath everything else, Apple is facing a profound question of how much control it can exert over its own devices. For critics, this is Apple’s original sin, using industrial and graphic design to lure customers into a walled garden, then locking the gate. For fans, it’s Apple’s genius, integrating hardware and software to deliver a more purposeful and powerful user experience. But it all rests on Apple’s ability to maintain a closed stack, using hardware integration to control what happens in software.

The quotes are just the start of Alex’s take on each question, just a taste. I found this a solid read, helped me get my head around an incredibly complex set of topics. Worth reading, and worth reading the comments/responses that follow.