Apple’s app store raises controversy

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The makers of the popular video game “Fortnite” accused Apple of monopolistic actions Aug. 13 after the game broke terms of
service to bypass Apple’s 30% cut of all in-app profits. 

Epic Games, “Fortnite’s” publisher, said 30% is unreasonable. While previously players could buy “v-bucks,” “Fortnite’s” in-game currency, through the App Store, Epic added a new button that allowed players to buy the same number of v-bucks for a cheaper price. The catch was that Apple would see none of the funds. Apple removed “Fortnite” instantly from the App Store and issued a statement condemning Epic.

Benjamin Buckman, senior marketing major, said he feels Apple takes too much money from developers. 

“They’re demanding money that they don’t need, even from games that are smaller and don’t make much revenue,” Buckman said.

Aaron Kooistra, sophomore engineering major, said he is concerned about independent app development. 

“Apple basically has a monopoly on all iPhone devices, so you can’t make any cool apps without signing away a lot of your profit to Apple,” Kooistra said.

Epic Games filed a lawsuit Aug. 17 accusing Apple of “(exceeding any) technology monopolist in history.” It calls Apple “anti-competitive” and “extortionate.” 

The lawsuit was followed up with a massive social media campaign, titled
#freefortnite, where Epic mobilized its “Fortnite” fans against the App Store
guidelines.

“Apple intentionally sabotages consumer iOS devices to prevent users from installing software directly from developers, as consumers are free to do on PC and Mac,” reads the game’s website.

Although Apple has the right to charge a commission for App Store access, Dr. Marc Weniger, professor of business, said 30% might be too much.

“Apple has a unique product in that they (make sure) that the apps that are on (the App Store) don’t have any malware,” Weniger said. “It keeps the Apple users safe, but on the other hand (the App Store) is a marketplace — so the big question is what percentage is too much when it comes to taking a commission to offer access to a market.”

Dr. Bob Namvar, professor of economics, said he believes Apple’s actions could constitute monopolization of the smartphone sector. Namvar recalled the 2001 United States vs. Microsoft Corp. lawsuit, which could provide legal precedent for Epic Games. 

It seems the judge presiding over Epic’s lawsuit feels differently. 

Judge Yvonne Rogers ruled Aug. 25 that “Fortnite” will remain estranged from the App Store until further hearings scheduled for late September. 

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