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Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney vowed to keep fighting Apple's App Store commission and won't stop until he gets Tim Cook to allow iPhones and app distribution for iPad outside the app store.
In a new interview with The Verge, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney explains why he thinks Apple and Google control the internet too much.
Epic has long been a critic of Apple, with Sweeney arguing that Apple's 30% tax on the App Store is “an absolute monopoly.”
In the interview, Sweeney compares Apple's control of the App Store to railroad monopolies in the past.
“Yes, Apple made the hardware for the iPhone and developed iOS, and they earned fantastic profits by selling their devices with their operating system, just as the railroads deserve fantastic profits by profiting from the sale of train tickets and transportation services “, he tells The Verge.
“But what they cannot legally and under any fair competition principle is that Apple cannot use its control of the hardware and operating system to enforce trade restrictions in related markets,” he continues. “Apple does not allow other companies to create competing stores on iOS. It's like railroads blocking refineries from sending their products by rail to take over those related industries.”
He is concerned that Apple's monopoly is “stifling the digital economy” not only in the app market, but also in the music and TV market.
Epic's own fight with Apple continues, which began in 2020 when Epic allowed Fortnite players to buy V-bucks directly instead of through Apple's payment system.
Unsurprisingly, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store in response.
Apple claims that its commissions go towards maintaining the App Store's high standards and protecting users from developer fraud.
The 30% commission fee, which Apple has reduced to 15% for developers with less than $1M in annual sales on its platform and for annual subscriptions, is the industry standard.
But the Sweeney isn't just about money. He also argues that by requiring users to get apps exclusively from the App Store, Apple is restricting free speech for both developers and users.
“I find it incredibly dangerous to let the most powerful corporation in the world decide who can say what,” says Sweeney. He warns that every politician should be afraid of this.
Sweeney refers to claims by Twitter CEO Elon Musk that Apple was planning to remove Twitter from the App Store. However, Musk has since backtracked on that stance, publicly stating that Apple never considered deleting the app.
Sweeney explains that he wants app distribution to be open, allowing customers to download apps directly from developers' websites. He also wants to ensure that Apple can't earn a commission on any app revenue generated after the original purchase price from the App Store.
“[What] we're asking is how it should have been, how the iPhone should have been made when it was first released,” Sweeney said. “This is how all platforms, all common computing platforms, should work. That's how Windows works, that's how macOS works, and that should just be an installed foundational piece.”
Before the introduction of the Apple App Store for iPhone, most software was sold in retail stores, often with less than 30% developer payout. Clearly, the retail landscape has changed since then – but mainly because platforms like the App Store and Steam have changed it.
“Therefore, Epic is not having any complicated negotiations here. We will just fight as long as it takes to get what we ask for,” exclaimed Sweeney. “And if Apple agrees to it, we'll settle it today.”
Sweeney has made it clear that he will fight Apple all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, to win at any cost. He notes that the process is “painful and expensive”, but at the same time “absolutely necessary”.