This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Due to an update to Epic Games' popular Fortnite game that implemented in-app purchases in violation of the guidelines, Apple removed the app from the App Store. In response, Epic immediately filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple.
Apple responded to this lawsuit with a court motion, arguing that Fortnite shouldn’t be placed back into the store temporarily while the legal battle rages. One of the grounds for this was the release of testimony from officials who said that Epic had asked for special treatment only for itself.
Apple's Phil Schiller, then SVP of Worldwide Marketing and now an Apple Fellow, said in his statement that Epic CEO Tim Sweeney sent three emails to him and his colleagues requesting a "special deal" on the App Store.
The specific date was June 30, prior to the removal of the app, and was allegedly in writing asking for a "side letter" (a document with supplemental details to this agreement) that would make "a special Epic-only deal that would fundamentally change the way Epic offers its apps on Apple's iOS platform.
In addition, Apple says, Sweeney was asking not only for permission for Epic to bypass in-app purchases and allow customers to pay directly (to Epic), but also for permission to launch a third-party app store for the iPhone.
Sweeney said it wasn't true that Epic sought special treatment from Apple, and that they were fighting for "fighting for open platforms and policy changes equally benefiting all developers". But Apple's argument is that Epic was trying to establish its own relationship with Apple before filing the lawsuit. However, when Apple refused to fundamentally change its business practices to appease Epic, Epic sued for sudden and unilateral action in blatant violation of its contract with Apple, Apple claims.
Furthermore, Apple has even likened Epic to a shoplifter. "If developers can avoid the digital checkout, it is the same as if a customer leaves an Apple retail store without paying for shoplifted product: Apple does not get paid," which seems to suggest that third-party apps are one of the products displayed in their app store and are entitled to a commission.
And Apple says that if Epic removes the direct payment option added to Fortnite, the game will be allowed to return to the App Store and the developer account will not be disabled, so the emergency injunction that Epic is seeking to remove is "entirely of Epic's own making," it even says.
However, these are only allegations that Apple is making in the courtroom, a forum for disputed interests, and it is possible that the text of the email on which it is based was cut out only to suit its own company.
In fact, Sweeney has responded while publishing the text he sent on Twitter. While it is true that he asked for bypassing in-app purchases and side letters, he also wrote that he "hope that Apple will also make these options equally available to all iOS developers," and it is claimed that he did not ask for special treatment.
Apple's statement is misleading. You can read my email in Apple's filing, which is publicly available. I specifically said in Epic's request to the Apple execs, "We hope that Apple will also make these options equally available to all iOS developers..." https://t.co/yRio08fPSypic.twitter.com/HsqjApFQeo
It's surprising that Epic was asking for permission to open a third-party app store that Apple would never allow, but the implications should be very different depending on whether it's "special treatment for themselves only" or "equal treatment for other companies". It will be interesting to watch the lawsuit, including the ripple effect it will have on the many developers and companies involved in the App Store.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.