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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Epic Vs Apple! Judge rules against Epic; Apple’s defense showing cracks

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In the historic, first judgement of what is shaping up to be a protracted legal battle, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple may continue to block Epic from the app store. The ruling is essentially an interim order, while the case continues to take shape. Judge Rogers also ruled (against Apple) that Apple cannot block Epic from distributing the wildly popular Unreal Engine visual engineering suite to developers who use the Apple app store.

On a seperate front, Apple offered a rare apology to WordPress, after founding developer Matt Mullenweg tweeted: “We were locked by App Store. To be able to ship updates and bug fixes again we had to commit to support in-app purchases for .com plans. I know why this is problematic, open to suggestions.”

Apple’s apology: “We believe the issue with the WordPress app has been resolved,” Apple told The Verge. “Since the developer removed the display of their service payment options from the app, it is now a free stand-alone app and does not have to offer in-app purchases. We have informed the developer and apologize for any confusion that we have caused.”

And another angle of these events: Apple’s stock just broke $2 trillion, making Apple the most valuable company in the world. While such a lofty valuation and accompanying title might seem like a positive development, not so in the case of Apple. Not with Wired.com headlines like “Apple’s $2 Trillion Valuation Weakens Its Fight Over Fortnite.”

All of this, just weeks after Apple was called to testify before Congress along with other tech titans. The virtual hearing, billed as the culmination of a broad-ranging antitrust investigation, unfolded in a bipartisan haranguing that led many to believe Congress is seriously considering a major tech breakup might be on the horizon.

These events on their own, would present significant roadblocks for most major companies to continue operating effectively, but combined–they are subjecting Apple to an apocalyptic stress test the likes of which has never been seen.

To summarize, Apple is under attack on all fronts. The consumer tech giant is facing a capitalist, free market court battle that seeks to completely undermine one of Apple’s most valuable products–the app store. Apple is also drawing ire from the open-source world for attempting to strong arm WordPress. On the legislative front, the House continues to build a case calling for the breakup up big tech (Apple chief among them). And as more capital is pumped into the stock market, more capital is pumped into Apple, which in turn increases the valuation of Apple and the separation between Apple and its peers.

While Apple’s balance sheet might be stronger than ever, the smartphone pioneer is facing a deficit on other, possibly more valuable fronts–the goodwill of Washington and the court of public opinion.

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