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Apple CEO Tim Cook at an Oakland courthouse on May 21 during the final stage of an antitrust trial. Photo by Bloomberg.

Apple Facing Potential Loss in App Store Antitrust Case as Judge Turns Hostile

By  |  May 25, 2021 6:01 AM PDT
Photo: Apple CEO Tim Cook at an Oakland courthouse on May 21 during the final stage of an antitrust trial. Photo by Bloomberg.

The last two days of Apple’s high-profile antitrust trial against app developer Epic Games didn’t go the way Apple had hoped. The judge, Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, voiced concerns about Apple’s App Store levying a 30% tax on digital purchases made in apps, an issue that is at the core of Epic’s complaint. She also said Apple’s practice of forbidding app developers to tell customers they can buy digital goods through a web browser for a cheaper price than what they pay in the apps “seems to be anticompetitive.” And Apple’s decision to put CEO Tim Cook on the stand on Friday backfired when he claimed under oath to not know basic details of his own business.

Despite Apple’s strong start and legal advantages going into the trial, which ended on Monday, Gonzalez Rogers in recent days appeared intent on imposing at least some changes to Apple’s business that would favor app developers and aid government antitrust enforcers, who are separately investigating App Store practices. The main challenge she faces is that any such ruling would require her to find that Apple broke the law by using monopoly power to harm its competition. During the closing moments of the trial, she hinted about a path she could take to make a ruling that would only help Epic and other mobile game developers. Such a ruling would be limited in scope but still could have an impact on Apple’s profits.

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