In just a few day's time, Epic Games and Apple will take to the courtroom in what could well be one of the most important court cases in the history of either company. In fact, it's not a stretch to say the outcome of the Epic Games antitrust trial against Apple, due to begin May 5, could have a huge ripple effect across the entire tech industry. That is, of course, when it's finally settled, because whilst the trial itself may only be a few short weeks, the true scope of the battle could span many years. So what exactly is each company fighting for? What are some of the practicalities of the trial, and just why exactly should any of us care about the outcome? We spoke to two of the world's leading industry experts on that very matter to help you cut through the noise.
Florian Mueller is an antitrust and patent litigation expert, who has closely covered some of the world's most important legal battles (including Apple vs. Samsung) over at FOSS Patents. Not only is Mueller a legal expert on the matter, but he's now a mobile game developer with a more personal stake in the fight. Neil Cybart is the founder of Above Avalon, dedicated to the coverage of Apple's financial fortunes. Cybart is one of the world's leading minds when it comes to all things Apple, and consistently ranks among the most accurate analysts when predicting Apple's quarterly revenue, EPS, and more.
We sat down with both to discuss some of the issues at stake in the case with one goal in mind, to help you the reader understand what's going on and why you should be interested in the case.
Firstly, I asked Mueller to give us a brief background on the case and to try and help us understand what we can expect over the coming weeks and months.
How would you briefly summarize what the trial is about?
Epic says Apple has a monopoly on its App Store, how would you summarize Apple's response to that?
Couldn't Epic Games and Apple fix this some other way, why does there need to be a court battle?
How long might this first trial last? And will there be anyone famous or who people might recognize giving evidence or testimony?
How might an Epic victory royale change the way I use my iPhone and the App Store?
How might an Epic victory impact the wider world of big tech? Could Epic winning have an impact on other platforms like gaming consoles, Windows, or anything else?
Apple is fighting for the status quo of its App store and the iPhone, so is it fair to say that an Apple victory would mean things go on as they are just now?
Regardless of who wins, this likely won't be the end of the fight, will it?
So in reality it could be many years before there is any true outcome to this case?
Are there any other important cases like this that could have an impact on Apple, Epic, or the trial?
iOS and Android are quite different operating systems with different policies (sideloading for example), so why is Epic suing both Apple and Google?
Are there any other parties who aren't actually suing Apple, but might have an interest in this case?
With all of the legal bases covered, we spoke to Neil Cybart to break down how this trial could affect the bottom line at Apple, and the pockets of consumers.
Apple and Epic are going to war over the App Store, payment processing, etc. Just how much money is at stake here for everyone involved?
An Epic victory (appeals notwithstanding) might have a very big impact on the iPhone, iOS, etc, do you think that would have a negative impact on Apple's bottom line, or indeed how it is seen as an investment prospect.
One argument in the case might come down to the "value" of the App Store, how much developers pay, how much Apple takes, vs how much everyone gets out of it. How would you summarize the value of the App Store to developers and consumers?
How might an Epic victory or changes following the trial impact real-life users financially. Could apps get more or less expensive? Or could the price of the iPhone change?
Cybart: The primary consideration with having the App Store rather than a collection of third-party app stores on iOS is found with the user experience. Most apps don't even transact revenue through Apple payment as it is, so it's not just about cost to the consumers.
Four weeks and a $16bn source of revenue. With the Epic Games vs Apple suit mere days away, it wouldn't be dramatic to say that this lawsuit could be one of the most important in Apple's history. We'll be here to take you through the trial day by day, bringing you all of the best witness soundbites, arguments, and the facets of the case that matter most to consumers and developers alike.
If you're interested in some of the deeper legal arguments in the case, points of law, and the things that parties will be fighting it out over in court, you might want to start with our unpacking of the legal arguments of Apple and Epic Games from last year. For a history lesson on the trial from last year, check out our first conversation with Mueller and Cybart.
Apple vs Epic Games will call in the District Court of Northern California, the trial begins on May 3.
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9