(Reuters) – Apple Inc said it plans to argue that it faces abundant competition in the market for video game deals to defend itself against antitrust accusations by “Fortnite” maker Epic Games, the iPhone maker said on Thursday.
Epic sued Apple last year in federal court in California, alleging the 15% to 30% commission that Apple levies for using the payment system in its apps and Apple’s longstanding practice of exercising control over which apps can be installed on its devices equals anti-competitive behavior. The dispute arose after Epic tried to implement a payment system in its own app in the popular “Fortnite” game and Apple later banned the game from its App Store.
The case will be heard in May in Oakland, California, by US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who must decide which “market” idea is correct to analyze Apple’s move for signs of anticompetitive behavior.
Epic has framed its case around the idea that Apple’s iPhones, with an installed base of more than 1 billion users, represent their own distinct market for software developers. Epic argues that Apple has monopoly power over that market because it decides how users can install software on devices and says it abuses that power by forcing developers to ship their software through the App Store, where developers are charged a fee on some transactions.
In a filing planned by Apple on Thursday, the company rejected the idea and said the right market to analyze the case would be the video game deals market, which includes platforms such as Nintendo Co Ltd and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox game console, which also restrict the software that can run on it. their hardware and charge the developer a fee.
Apple said it plans to argue that consumers have many choices about how to conduct video game transactions, including buying virtual tokens from game developers on other platforms such as Windows PCs and using tokens on iPhones at no cost to game developers.
Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Edited by Leslie Adler
(Reuters)-People familiar with the matter say that Google’s plan to block “cookies”, a popular web tracking tool, is worrying US Department of Justice investigators who have been asking advertising executives whether the search giant’s move will hinder Its smaller competitors. The situation said.
A year ago, Alphabet Inc.’s Google announced that it would ban certain cookies in its Chrome browser to improve user privacy. In the past two months, Google has released more detailed information, leading online advertising competitors to complain about the loss of data collection tools.
People familiar with the matter said that questions from investigators from the Department of Justice have touched on how Chrome policies (including those related to cookies) affect the advertising and news industries.
The latest conversation has not been reported before, indicating that officials are tracking Google’s project in the global online advertising market, in which Google and the second largest Facebook company control approximately 54% of Google’s revenue.
Advertising queries may not lead to legal proceedings.
One of the sources said that executives from more than a dozen companies from all walks of life talked with investigators from the Ministry of Justice.
Since mid-2019, the government has been investigating Google’s search and advertising business and sued Google in October last year, accusing it of using anti-competitive strategies to maintain its dominance of its search engine. It continues to study Google’s advertising practices.
People familiar with the matter said that investigators also asked competitors whether they encountered behaviors similar to or more serious than the allegations against Google in a lawsuit against Google by attorneys general from Texas and other states in December last year.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the matter.
Google defended its advertising business, saying it is helping the company develop and protect users’ privacy from exploitation.
The company said: “The fierce competition in advertising tools has made online advertising more affordable, lower costs, and provided publishers and advertisers with more choices.”
One of the sources said that if the Justice Department prosecutes advertising-related behavior, it may file a new lawsuit or join the Texas case. But antitrust litigation experts said the department still has time to revise its existing complaints to include concerns about advertising technology.
Texas revised its complaint on Tuesday, among other things, claiming that the upcoming changes to Chrome “are anti-competitive because they increase the barriers to entry for online advertising and exclude competition.”
Google’s vice president of advertising services, Jerry Dischler, said at an industry conference last week: “We don’t think tracking individuals on the web will stand the test of time because privacy issues continue to intensify.”
But smaller competitors have rejected the privacy principles used by big companies such as Google and Apple to limit tracking because they will continue to collect valuable data and potentially generate more advertising revenue.
Chad Engelgau, CEO of Acxiom, the advertising data division of Interpublic Group of Companies Inc., said: “There is a privacy weapon to prove that sound business decisions can consolidate their business strength and are not conducive to the broader market.”
The French competition authority on Wednesday temporarily allowed Apple to move forward with new tracking restrictions, saying that privacy protection trumps competition issues.
It is expected that the UK Competition and Markets Authority (UK Competition and Markets Authority) will soon decide whether to block the upcoming Chrome changes.
Reporting by Paresh Dave in Oakland, California and Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Chris Sanders and Lisa Shumaker