What you need to know
- Tim Cook gave testimony in the Epic Games vs Apple trial Friday.
- Things seemed to be going pretty well until Cook came under a surprise barrage of tough questions from Judge Rogers.
- Cook was asked about in-app purchases, and why it seemed that gamers were subsidizing the rest of the App Store.
Apple CEO Tim Cook came under fire in a series of intense questions from the judge in the Epic Games vs Apple trial on Friday.
Cook answered questions from the counsel of both parties on the App Store, in-app payments, competition, and more. But it was the harsh line of questioning from Judge Rogers that got the internet all in a frenzy about Apple's prospects in the trial.
As transcribed by The Verge, Judge Rogers asked about the significant portion of App Store revenue that came from games, asking "what is the problem with allowing users to have choice, especially in a gaming context, to have a cheaper option for content?" To this Cook replied that users do have a choice between a multitude of Android devices and the iPhone, but Judge Rogers pressed on:
Rogers told Cook the model was "quite lucrative" and seemed to be focused on impulse purchases. Whilst many have painted this revelation as a damning indictment from the presiding Judge, Rogers did not this was not really an antitrust matter, and was a totally different question.
She did however say that it seems to her that Apple was profiting off developers who were keeping customers playing their games, to which Cook replied " view that we are creating the entire amount of commerce on the store, and we're doing that by focusing on getting the largest audience there. We do that with a lot of free apps, so [even if] we don't collect a commission from them they bring a lot to the table. And then we have the majority of other people that pay 15 percent, and only the people that are really profiting in a major way are paying 30 percent."
Rogers also asked about the commission rate of the App Store, claiming that its Small Business program was not driven by competition. She also asked about a survey in which 39 percent of developers were reportedly dissatisfied with the App Store stating "But it doesn't seem to me that you feel under pressure or competition to actually change the manner in which you act to address the concerns of the developers — again, if these numbers are right."
Cook said that Apple "[turns] the place upside down for developers". The broadside from Judge Rogers would likely have come as a shock to Apple and indeed onlookers in what has been an otherwise mundane and fairly regular couple of weeks' testimony.
During the course of Friday Cook did make one very big revelation about the App Store and iPhone, stating that even if developers used alternative payment methods to charge for digital goods, Apple would still collect commission on these payments.
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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