Epic Games CEO, Tim Sweeneygo back to talking about Apple saying that l’App Store “strangles the digital economy” and that “all politicians they should fear the power of Apple“. Statements made a The Verge from the CEO they arrive as the US Parliament should start debating l’Open App Markets Act, a legislation that could change the rules of the App Store and the Google Play Store. But also in the middle of the legal battle of Epic Games against Cupertino and Mountain View, that Sweeney is “willing to bring before the Supreme Court”.
Tim Sweeney: for the CEO of Epic Games, politics should be afraid of Apple
The Open App Markets Act provides a set of rules for companies operating digital stores for applications that they serve over 50 million users in the United States. In other words, Apple and Google. Asking them to respect different rules. Which for a developer like Epic Games are necessary while for Apple and Google limit the control and security of their operating systems.
In the United States, the legislation has the support of several Democratic and Republican senators. But at the moment it is not clear if and when the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will propose the vote on this legislation. Especially because of the criticisms of Apple and Google on the text. But Sweeney seems more determined than ever to insist that a decision on the matter come soon, as evidenced by his interview on The Verge.
Sweeney’s double accusation, to convince Democrats and Republicans
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney seems to adopt a double narrative to explain why “every politician should fear” Apple. In August 2020 the CEO of Epic had kicked off a double trial against Apple and Google, talking about a possible violation of antitrust laws.
In his interview with The Verge, Sweeney explains: “Apple built the iPhone hardware and designed iOS, and they deserve to earn fantastic income selling devices with their operating system”. But according to Sweeney, the company “cannot use its control over hardware and operating systems to impose restrictions on peer markets. Apple cannot prevent other companies from establishing other stores your iOS”.
If the arguments about free markets and antitrust serve to convince Democratic senators, Sweeney instead wants to exploit the free speech issue to convince Republicans. Even taking advantage of the recent complaints of Elon Musk for Twitter on the App Store.
Sweeney explains: “I think it’s incredibly dangerous to let the most powerful corporation in the world decide who gets to say what.” And she goes on to say that at the moment “this is seen as a Republican issue because tech companies lean towards Democrats, and therefore Republicans fear the control over the discourse that Apple exercises could harm their own political perspective. But what if tech companies were right wing (and now we have the example of Twitter) everyone would be scared for the opposite reasons.”
What the Open App Markets Act provides
The Open App Markets Act will apply to companies that have stores serving over 50 million US users: the App Store for iOS and the Play Store for Android (the situation for PC and Mac is very different and the new rules would have a marginal impact). The rules in the current draft plan to simplify:
- installing third-party apps outside the App Store
- set third-party apps as those of default
- Uninstall or hide pre-installed apps
It will also prevent Apple and Google from “forcing” developers to ad use its payment systems, penalize them by offering discounts and promotions to those who use them, promote their apps “unreasonably” in searches.
Apple and Google think that these practices could compromise the security of their respective operating systems, allowing the installation of uncontrolled applications. But Sweeney thinks that “all programmers know that what makes the operating system secure is the kernel, which prevents apps from using data and services they don’t have permission to use. And this is why macOS and iOS are incredibly secure. The App Store tier does not provide additional security“.
Regardless of Sweeney’s point of view, however, what will make the difference will be the opinion of the US Senate. Which may not even go as far as getting this legislation out of the Commission. However, the CEO of Epic Games has said that it will not stop. “Epic Games is willing to take this fight all the way to the Supreme Court.”