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Apple Epic Trial

Apple spends $50 million hosting WWDC every year

Testimony from Apple executive Phil Schiller reveals the cost of an Apple developer conference.

Apple's Craig Federighi speaks during the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif. in 2019.

Apple's Craig Federighi speaks during the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif. in 2019.

Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small/AFP/Getty Images

Apple spends about $50 million hosting its annual developer conference, known as WWDC, every summer. That is until the event, which has been held in recent years at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, went all-virtual last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The figure, the first time we've ever had any confirmation of how much Apple spends on its developer gathering, came from live testimony from Apple fellow Phil Schiller, who's in court in Oakland, California testifying in the ongoing Epic Games v. Apple antitrust trial. Schiller says Apple used to charge developers to attend, which would offset some of the cost of hosting and running WWDC, but that it hadn't charged for access to its all-virtual conference last year. Apple plans to host another digital WWDC from June 7 to 11.

Schiller was asked how much Apple spends, and whether the figure was factored into the operating costs of the App Store. He said it was not. Apple's lawyers have spent a considerable amount of time over the past two weeks of the trial trying to undermine expert testimony from Epic, in which financial researcher Ned Barnes said he calculated the App Store's operating margin in 2019 to be 78%.

Epic has argued the high profitability of the App Store is one of the reasons why Apple continues to demand 30% of digital transactions and that Apple fails to justify that commission rate through its claims of providing security, privacy, App Store review, and other operating costs. Apple has argued it does not have calculate the profitability of the App Store as an individual unit and that any attempts to do so would be misleading as they do not take into account the amount of money Apple invests in the iOS ecosystem, such as research and development costs and the money it spends on events like WWDC.

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