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Apple Epic Trial

Apple's expert testimony in the Fortnite lawsuit details its App Store defense

Many of these arguments will be more succinctly argued in court by Apple's lawyers and supplied by its witnesses who testify live.

Apple's expert testimony in the Fortnite lawsuit details its App Store defense

The documents offer insight into how the various academics hired by Apple will argue against Epic's claims that the iPhone maker has a monopoly in iOS app distribution and payment processing.

Photo: Chukrut Budrul/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Apple on Monday filed expert testimony in Epic Games' antitrust lawsuit, which goes to trial on Monday. The series of documents, first spotted by MacRumors, offers insight into how the various academics hired by Apple argue against Epic's claims the iPhone maker has a monopoly in iOS app distribution and payment processing, which is at the core of its complaint stemming from the removal of Fortnite from the App Store last summer.


One key insight includes testimony from economist Francine Lafontaine, a professor at University of Michigan's School of Business, laying out how Safari acts as an alternative payment method for Fortnite's in-game V-bucks currency, in theory undermining the notion that Apple maintains strict control over the in-game economies of iOS gaming apps:

Even the rare consumer who has access to only an iOS device has a readily available game transaction alternative to the App Store--the Safari browser. For example, any Fortnite player can use Safari (or Chrome) to purchase Fortnite's in-game currency, 'V-Bucks,' a transaction that generates no commission for Apple.

In another piece of testimony, a survey conducted by Dominique Hanssens, a marketing professor at UCLA, said an overwhelming majority of participants use devices other than those made by Apple to "access digital gaming content":

Results of my first survey show that 92 percent of respondents who downloaded apps from the App Store had regularly used at least one other type of device (i.e., devices other than iPhones and iPads) with which they could access digital gaming content, in the last 12 months. Further, 99 percent of respondents in the first survey had regularly used or could have regularly used at least one other type of device (i.e., devices other than iPhones and iPads) with which they could access digital gaming content, in the last 12 months.

But perhaps the most consequential bit of expert testimony comes from economist Lorin Hitt, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who argues that Apple's share of the "digital game transaction market" is far from dominant:

My market share calculations support the conclusion that Apple does not have market or monopoly power in a properly defined market. Apple's share of the digital game transaction market lies between 23.3% and 37.5%. In light of my conservative approach, these market share estimates, especially at the high end, are likely to overstate Apple's true market share and are, in any event, inconsistent with Apple having substantial market power. The entry of new game transaction platforms is also inconsistent with Apple having market power.

Apple submitted hundreds of pages of testimony — Hitt's submission alone is 91 pages long — and many of these arguments will be more succinctly argued in court by Apple's lawyers and supplied by its witnesses who testify live. To that end, both Apple and Epic have submitted witness lists on Monday. From Apple we'll see CEO Tim Cook, App Store VP Matt Fischer, Senior VP of Internet Software and Service Eddy Cue, Senior VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi, among others. And from Epic, we'll see CEO Tim Sweeney and Epic Game Store chief Steve Allison, among others.

Protocol | Fintech

Marqeta turns to a fintech outsider

Randy Kern, a Salesforce and Microsoft veteran, is taking a plunge into the payments world.

Randy Kern is joining Marqeta after decades at Microsoft and Salesforce.

Photo: Marqeta

Marqeta has just named a new chief technology officer. And it's an eyebrow-raising choice for a critical post as the payments powerhouse faces new challenges as a public company.

Randy Kern, who joined Marqeta last month, is a tech veteran with decades of engineering and leadership experience, mainly in enterprise software. He worked on Microsoft's Azure and Bing technologies, and then went on to Salesforce where he last served as chief customer technology officer.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

As President of Alibaba Group, I am often asked, "What is Alibaba doing in the U.S.?"

In fact, most people are not aware we have a business in the U.S. because we are not a U.S. consumer-facing service that people use every day – nor do we want to be. Our consumers – nearly 900 million of them – are located in China.

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J. Michael Evans
Michael Evans leads and executes Alibaba Group's international strategy for globalizing the company and expanding its businesses outside of China.
Protocol | Policy

What can’t Jonathan Kanter do?

Biden's nominee to lead the DOJ's antitrust section may face calls to remove himself from issues as weighty as cracking down on Google and Apple.

DOJ antitrust nominee Jonathan Kanter's work as a corporate lawyer may require him to recuse himself from certain cases.

Photo: New America/Flickr

Jonathan Kanter, President Joe Biden's nominee to run the Justice Department's antitrust division, has been a favorite of progressives, competitors to Big Tech companies and even some Republicans due to his longtime criticism of companies like Google.

But his prior work as a corporate lawyer going after tech giants may require him to recuse himself from some of the DOJ's marquee investigations and cases, including those involving Google and Apple.

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Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

Protocol | Enterprise

Couchbase plots escape from middle of database pack with $200M IPO

The company has to prove it can beat larger rivals like MongoDB, as well as fast-growing competitors like Redis Labs, not to mention the big cloud companies.

Couchbase celebrates its initial public offering on the Nasdaq market.

Photo: Nasdaq

At first glance, Couchbase appears to be stuck in the middle of the cloud database market, flanked by competitors with more traction and buzz. But fresh off a $200 million IPO Thursday, CEO Matt Cain relished the opportunity ahead to prove why his company can beat out rivals the market considers more valuable.

The NoSQL database provider's public offering helped propel Couchbase to a $1.2 billion valuation. But unlike one of the last big data-related IPOs, market leader Snowflake's historic debut on the public markets last December, Couchbase has some work to do to differentiate itself.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

People

SPACs are so Q1 and other takeaways from a disorienting year in IPOs

Amid the frenzy of tech IPOs this year, a few surprising discoveries stand out.

Through it all, the house always wins.

Image: CSA Images/Getty Images

2021 is shaping up to be a disorienting year for tech IPOs. The first six months brought us the Alex Rodriguez SPAC, an $85 billion Coinbase debut and a mysterious delay in the Robinhood S-1 filing that was ultimately cleared up when the firm paid a token fine.

Amid the recurring frenzy, it's easy to slip into a familiar pattern of analysis: Wait for an S-1 to drop, react to the financial disclosures, then see whether the stock "pops" after its trading debut. By the time one stock starts trading, several tantalizing new S-1s are already up for inspection. The problem with this cycle is that it stops too early: A stock's opening-day pop only really reflects the extent to which a few overworked investment bankers underestimated investor demand. A pop makes for headlines. It doesn't make a company.

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Hirsh Chitkara
Hirsh Chitkara (@ChitkaraHirsh) is a researcher at Protocol, based out of New York City. Before joining Protocol, he worked for Business Insider Intelligence, where he wrote about Big Tech, telecoms, workplace privacy, smart cities, and geopolitics. He also worked on the Strategy & Analytics team at the Cleveland Indians.
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