The spotlight is on the Epic struggle and whether the publisher of Fortnite will force Apple to reduce ‘crippling’ commissions for its developers. Fortnite was thrown out of the Apple and Google stores last week, which means that, as well as consumers not being able to buy the games from the stores, existing players of those games cannot get the updates.
Apple is being obstinate and looks as if it is winning that particular battle. But the company may have to adjust its stance as more and more companies take up the fight.
Since the initial exchange of blows, a group representing the big US publishers, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have also demanded that Apple reduces its 30% commission. This looked for U-turn is made more likely as it turns out that Apple is being two-faced about this issue. Amazon was able to negotiate a reduced commission when Amazon Prime video was made available via Apple TV.
Other major app producers are joining in, with Spotify and Telegram joining the increasingly angry mob that is demanding change. Microsoft just added itself to the list.
Apple, meanwhile, will not want to look to the Government to help it in this fight. CEO Tim Cook has already been grilled by Congress on its dominant behaviour.
Talking of dominant behaviour, the US Government is about to be sued by TikTok over Donald Trump’s order that its owner, ByteDance sells the US version of the video app. TikTok will, according to reports, say that the Order deprives it of statutory rights and anyway, it is not a security threat.
Whoever wins these battles, it looks as if we are moving into an era where any dominant behaviour – by companies or even Governments – can be challenged. Whilst it is unlikely that a Government would lose, the TikTok lawsuit will certainly buy the company time (and it could be that by the time a decision is reached, the incumbent President will not be in office).
More importantly, if the Epic struggle gains enough traction, that could be more effective at changing dominant behaviour by Apple than any action by the Government itself. And if that happens, it will be interesting to see who is next.