Apple v. Epic trial wraps up as judge spars with Tim Cook

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Apple CEO Tim Cook testified as the final witness in the Apple v. Epic Games antitrust trial on Friday, and the poised executive faced a tough round of questioning from the federal judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

The questions were pointed and gave a rare window into the thinking of YGR, as the judge is frequently referred to, about arguments offered during nearly three weeks of testimony. The 10-minute round of questioning was important because Gonzalez Rogers, who presides over the U.S. District Court for Northern California in Oakland, will decide the case in lieu of a jury.

During her questioning, she brought up a survey that found that 39% of Apple’s developers were unhappy with Apple. Cook shook that off as he said that Apple rejects 40,000 of the the 100,000 apps that it gets every week and that can put it on an adversarial footing with developers. She also noted that the majority of revenue for the Apple App Store comes from games, which are monetized through in-app purchases. Apple doesn’t charge for a cut of advertising in games and apps, and so those developers don’t contribute toward alleviating the costs of running the store.

The judge then noted that it seems that Apple is putting the burden of paying for the costs of the store and other investments on the backs of the game developers in a disproportionate way.

“It’s almost as if they’re subsidizing everybody else,” Gonzalez Rogers said.

Of the 1.8 million apps in the App Store, about 85% are free. Cook replied there was value for the store for the free apps, as those free apps generate a huge amount of traffic for the store. That benefits everybody, including Apple and game developers, who can get more downloads and eventually more paying users out of the people who are drawn to the free apps. But among those free apps are those like Wells Fargo’s banking app, the judge replied.

“You use gamers to subsidize Wells Fargo,” she said. “It’s disproportionate.”

Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, argued to make the game industry more open in the next decade at the Dice Summit 2020.

Above: Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, argued to make the game industry more open in the next decade at the Dice Summit 2020.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

And she noted…