Apple Inc. will face video games developer Epic Games, Inc. in court Monday with some experts saying the outcome is expected to change app stores as we know them and may force Apple to change how it works with app developers.
For years Apple has been working to make its App Store an indispensable part of its smartphone business. Its past "there's an app for that" campaign drew millions to its devices - which in turn attracted developers.
Epic Games - the creator of the game Fortnite - has accused Apple of abusing its market power by forcing developers to pay high commissions and to adhere to its "anti-competitive" rules.
At the center of the dispute between the companies is Apple's payment processing and commission. Epic Games accused Apple of forcing developers to use its payment processing for all in-app purchases and punishing those that don't comply. The company alleges Apple's 30% commission on all digital sales is too steep.
Analysts said the outcome might have much larger repercussions. Antitrust experts at the Boston College Law School said the case could change how mobile transactions work and lawmakers could enact legislation that would limit the power of companies such as Google and Apple.
In a filing Epic Games argued Apple's strict control over its App Store is anticompetitive. The company is asking the court to force Apple to allow other app stores and payment processors on its mobile ecosystem.
"Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched and more pernicious than monopolies of yesteryear. Apple's size and reach far exceeds that of any technology monopolist in history," Epic Games said in its filing.
Apple is currently facing a similar complaint in Europe. Music streaming company Spotify Technology S.A. has lodged a complaint with European Union regulators accusing Apple of breaching the bloc's competition laws with its App Store rules and high commissions.
Legal experts said if Apple loses the suit, the company could be forced to change its entire business model. A decision against the way it operates would also result in an industrywide change in how apps are distributed and monetized.
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