Since the Epic v. Apple trial is a bench trial, there is no jury trying to reach a decision. Instead, it will be up to the judge to do so. As a result, everything that the judge says or does during the trial is examined closely to see if it is possible to see in which direction the judge is leaning.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney was on the hot seat today in the courtroom
a report published today by Reuters, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers asked Epic CEO Tim Sweeney to answer how the changes he is asking her to make to Apple's App Store will impact the millions of developers who make a living writing software for Apple devices. Epic wants the judge to force Apple to allow users to install apps from third-party app stores and relax its rules that force developers to ring up in-app payments using Apple's in-app payment platform only.According to
The rule changes that Judge Gonzalez Rogers could force on Apple would apply to all kinds of apps, not just Epic's popular Fortnite game. The judge pressured Epic CEO Sweeney and asked him if he knew the economics of other apps such as dating apps, messaging apps, and food apps to which the executive replied in the negative.
"So you don’t have any idea how what you are asking for would impact any of the developers who engage in those other categories of apps, is that right?" Judge Gonzalez Rogers asked. "I personally do not," Epic's CEO replied.
Perhaps one of the worst exchanges for Epic on Tuesday came when the judge asked Sweeney whether the real reason why Epic wants to be rid of Apple's restrictive in-app payment rules is to allow Fortnite's younger fan base to make "impulse purchases." The executive replied in the affirmative adding that "customer convenience is a huge factor in this.
In addition, the judge pointed out that Fortnite was kicked out of the App Store when Epic created its own in-house in-app payment platform for the V-Bucks currency used in the game. But Fortnite users could have purchased the currency without Apple getting any cut by purchasing them through Epic's website using the iPhone or iPad Safari browser. Judge Gonzalez Rogers might have been dumbfounded when she asked Sweeney, "Why couldn’t iPhone users buy V-Bucks through Safari before Fortnite’s ban in August?
Sweeney replied that "it wasn’t a very attractive option for our customers Sweeney told her. "To set Fortnite aside and pull out some device, browse to a website, log in, make a transaction there, it’s extremely inconvenient."
If the judge comes to the conclusion that Epic had a way around the Apple Tax without violating Apple's regulations, and that the game developer was simply concerned with impulse purchases made by kids, winning this case is going to be very difficult for the game developer.