iPhone eventSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Tim Cook gave evidence at the Apple vs Epic Games trial.
  • He revealed one very important detail about the prospect of using alternative payment methods in its iOS App Store.
  • Cook stated that Apple would still collect commission from those purchases, casting doubt on a huge part of Epic's argument.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has told the court in the Epic Games vs Apple trial that if developers were allowed to use alternative payment methods on the iOS App Store that Apple would still take a commission from those payments.

Cook gave evidence in the trial Friday, answering questions about the App Store and the iOs ecosystem. For example, Cook said that without App Store review the iOS ecosystem would be a "toxic mess", and that developers depended on the store being a safe and trusted place for customers. Then, something very interesting happened. Asked about the prospect of letting developers use their own in-app payment systems (as opposed to Apple's in-app payment system) Cook stated:

"It would wind up where customers would then have to fill in their credit cards for all of these different apps, so it would be a huge convenience issue, but also the fraud issues would go up..."

Then Cook dropped a bombshell:

"Also, we would have to come up with an alternate way of collecting our commission. We would then have to figure out how to track what's going on and invoice it and then chase the developers, it seems like a process that doesn't need to exist".

The revelation from Cook was a huge development, Epic Games is in part arguing in favor of an iPhone ecosystem where developers can offer users the chance to use alternative payment methods to pay for digital goods like V-Bucks, presumably so that they can bypass Apple's commission. Yet in court Cook clearly stated that Apple would still take a commission on those purchases. Whether this would be an antitrust issue of its own, or indeed legal is a totally separate matter. However, the point remains that Apple believes it would be entitled to take a commission on any and all digital goods transactions on the iPhone, regardless of how the payment was processed.

Many commenters on Twitter reacted furiously to the notion, claiming Apple "hates developers", another one stated "Microsoft did a lot of bad stuff during the 90s but never thought they were owed 30% commission on all business generated through Windows."

The trial is expected to wrap up Monday, and Judge Gonzalez Rogers indicated that we can expect to hear a verdict in a few months' time, possibly by August.