Apple blocks Fortnite maker Epic Games from launching its iOS store in the EU


Apple escalated its feud with Epic Games on Wednesday, blocking the Fortnite video-game maker from launching its online marketplace on iPhones and iPads in Europe.

The two companies have been in a legal battle since 2020, when the gaming firm alleged that Apple's practice of charging up to 30 percent commission on in-app payments on its iPhone operating system (iOS) devices violated US antitrust rules.

The latest challenge from Epic comes as Apple grapples with concerns about low demand for its iPhones in China, and its stock has fallen 12 percent so far this year, underperforming its big tech peers in the US. doing. Its shares were largely unchanged on Wednesday.

Efforts by regulators and competitors like Epic to pave the way for rival markets on Apple's devices pose a major threat to the Silicon Valley giant's profits and control of its own ecosystem.

European lawmakers are forcing Apple to allow those third-party marketplaces with a law called the Digital Markets Act (DMA) that takes effect this week.

Separately, Brussels antitrust regulators on Monday fined Apple 1.84 billion euros ($2 billion or about Rs 16,547 crore) for thwarting competition from music streaming rivals through restrictions on its App Store, which violates EU rules. The fine is Apple's first for violating the .

Epic had been working to take advantage of DMA, but Apple blocked those efforts on Wednesday, citing Epic's past violations of its contract in a long-running legal dispute.

Apple terminated a new developer account created by Epic in Sweden. Epic created the account in an effort to bring Fortnite and other games back to iPhones in Europe by running its game store on Apple devices. Under the new European law Apple will have to allow third-party stores on its devices.

Developer accounts are important because software creators can't distribute apps on iPhones and iPads without it. Apple previously closed some of Epic's developer accounts in 2020, after Epic knowingly broke Apple's in-app payment rules, a public relations and legal campaign against Apple for the violation and subsequent disappearance from the App Store. Was used as the origin of.

Apple said on Wednesday that the court rulings made clear that it has “sole discretion” to terminate any Epic Games developer account in the wake of “serious” violations of the company's developer agreements.

“In light of Epic's past and ongoing behavior, Apple decided to exercise its authority to terminate Epic Games' accounts,” Apple said.

Epic alleged that by terminating its account, Apple was removing one of the largest potential competitors to the Apple App Store.

Epic Games said, “This is a serious violation of the DMA and shows that Apple has no intention of allowing true competition on iOS devices.”

The European Commission, the EU's executive body, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In January Apple proposed some changes ahead of a March 7 deadline to comply with some of the terms of the DMA, a law aimed at making it easier for European users to move between competing services.

The company said it would allow opt-outs from using alternative app stores and in-app payment systems on iPhones, but would impose a “core” fee of 50 euro cents per user account per year for developers signing up for a new technology fee”. Administration.

© Thomson Reuters 2024

Apple launched the iPad Pro (2022) and iPad (2022) this week, along with the new Apple TV. We discuss the company's latest products, along with our review of the iPhone 14 Pro on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and wherever you get your podcasts.
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