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Epic Games lawsuit against Apple could affect how we use our phones

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Posted at 11:49 AM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 11:49:40-04

We are into the second week of a lawsuit that could decide how we use our phones in the future.

Epic Games, the company that makes Fortnite and software used in TV and movies is suing Apple for antitrust violations, accusing it of running a monopoly with its App Store.

Apple removed Epic's games from its App Store last fall after it tried to bypass Apple's payment system.

“Apple requires you to pay 30% of whatever you take in through the App Store goes right to Apple and then Epic's decided that they could use some other kind of payment processor,” said Tim Bornholdt, co-founder of the Jed Mahonis Group.

Bornholdt is an app developer. He says this lawsuit is mostly about who gets to keep app money, but it could have implication for users.

If Epic wins, Apple could be forced to change policies on apps and give users more options for where they get their apps. If Apple wins, it could push more app makers to use in-game ads to help offset Apple’s 30% cut.

“As we've come to learn, a lot of those advertising techniques exploit people's privacy and find ways to sell your personal information to the highest bidder,” said Bornholdt

Whatever the outcome of this trial, it likely won't impact policy, but it could set the stage for more lawsuits that could.

“Enough people have been riled up now and enough state and local and federal legislatures have been paying attention to it that this is just step one in a multiyear problem we're going to have to solve,” said Bornholdt.

Apple has made some changes amid the economic challenges caused by the pandemic. In January, Apple launched its App Store Small Business Program, which reduces App Store commissions to 15% for small businesses earning up to $1 million per year.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated that Apple reduced its App Store commissions for some small businesses as a result of the lawsuit with Epic Games, but the company says the change was made because of the economic challenges of the pandemic. This article has been updated to reflect that.