A federal judge on Friday grilled Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook over whether the iPhone maker’s App Store profits from developers such as Fortnite maker Epic Games are justified and whether Apple faces any real competitive pressure to change its ways.
Cook testified for more than two hours in Oakland, California, as the closing witness in Apple’s defense against Epic’s charges that the iPhone maker’s App Store controls and commissions have created a monopoly that Apple illegally abuses.
App makers including music service Spotify, European regulators, and US politicians who question whether the company that once urged the world to ‘think different’ has now become too big and too powerful.
At the end of testimony, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers questioned Cook, pressing him to concede that game developers generate most App Store revenue and help subsidise other apps on the store that pay no commission. Gonzalez said the profits Apple reaps from game developers “appear to be disproportionate.”
“I understand this notion that somehow Apple is bringing the customer to the dance,” she said. “But after that first time, after that first interaction, the developers are keeping customers with the game. Apple is just profiting from that, it seems me.”
Cook disagreed. “The free apps bring a lot to the table. Only the people who are really profiting in a major way are paying 30” percent commissions, he said.