05/19/2021 - U.S Expert Witness News: Expert Witness For Apple Takes a 'Hitt' in Epic (Games) Claims Monetization and Distribution Controls Are Oppressive.

Epic Games and Apple met in a Californian federal court on 3rd of May which saw in the beginning of a trial which could have serious consequences for how software is distributed and monetized on closed mobile ecosystems such as Apple iOS.

The expert witness, for Apple: Lorin Hitt, an academic from the esteemed Wharton Business School in Pennsylvania was charged with the responsibility of answering Epic Games' lawyer's scrutinization

Mr Hitt questioned whether in fact iOS is as task worthy at 'locking' in people as users claimed. He proposed an argument that users stayed with the iOS simply because they like it or because of switching costs. He cited a 26% switch rate, suggesting Apple was not effectively locking users in. Using dating APP Tinder as an example he said users can get an equivalent experience through another platform or browser.

However, during question g it came to the fore that many of the services did not meet as smooth experiences as promised. A good example mentioned, the freemium game, Candy Crush, is only available on the browser when using a desktop or laptop computer, and needs the user to log into King.com or Facebook.com.

Hitt's evidence claimed you could buy credit for free-to-play game Clash Royale through its website. This was shown to be incorrect. Supercell, the developer, processes all payments through the Google Play Store and the App Store.

Lorin Hitt's testimony eluded to eight games that allowed off-iOS payments. However, only three actually existed: PUBG Mobile, Roblox and Fortnite. This, contradicted earlier testimony from Apple marketing manager, Mr Trystan Kosmynka, who wrote Roblox was not a game, but rather an app. Roblox is categorized as an action game on the App Store.

Hitt, found himself in a deeper hole after he submitted a spreadsheet of iOS games that he claimed could only be played on other devices.

A game he mentioned, Words Story, was said to have a PC alternative. On closer inspection, the alternative cited proved to be from a completely different developer.

"Sir, this is not the same developer and not the same game, is it? It's what is called a 'fake game'," pressed Yonatan Even, counsel for Epic Games. Hitt blamed the error on his research team, and admitted he had not seen the PC equivalent first-hand.

The legal tussle between Epic Games and Apple raises an important question, Namely, does the way iOS works violate US and California antitrust law? If Apple loses the case they will have to rethink the way their store works.

Interesting nuances must be considered whether web-based alternatives are equivalent to native ones?

Are native iOS apps interchangeable with those for other platforms? Is iOS more like a PC or a games console where gaming is concerned or does Apple simply have too much control over a mobile community?