This Monday (3) marks the first day of the dispute between Epic Games and Apple in the courts. Interestingly, the developer of Fortnite received, three days before the trial, indirect support from a Google engineer: Alex Russell, leader of the Chrome web standards group, published a text on his blog harshly criticizing Apple’s stance to impose the WebKit to browsers available for iOS.
If you search for Fortnite in the App Store you will not find the game there. The reason for this is that Epic does not agree with the 30% fee that Apple charges as a commission on paid app features made available in the store.
Epic then decided to implement its own in-game payment method, with no connection to the App Store. The problem is that this decision violates Apple’s policies, which is why Fortnite ended up being banned from the store.
It is at this point that Alex Russell’s text fits into the fight between the two companies: unsurprisingly, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple on a monopoly charge; indirectly, Russell’s statement reinforces the arguments that the latter follows anti-competitive practices.
WebKit in all browsers
WebKit is much more than Safari’s page rendering engine. Apple requires that this component be present in all browsers available for iOS. This is Russell’s main complaint.
For the engineer, such imposition is abusive, because, in his understanding, WebKit suffers delays in the implementation of important resources or, in some cases, it does it inappropriately, without respecting web standards, for example.
Russell goes further. For him, the low quality implementation of certain features in WebKit forces developers to resort to alternative solutions that, in order not to present compatibility problems, also need to be addressed in Firefox, Chrome and other browsers available on the Apple platform.
In Russell’s view, this situation increases development costs. He also understands that the delay in the availability of resources in WebKit makes it difficult to implement more enriching web experiences in categories such as games, shopping and creativity.
Given this, developers feel obliged to work around the engine’s limitations by creating native iOS apps, says the Google employee.
In summary, what Russell argues is that Apple indicates to developers who disagree with App Store policies that the web is an alternative, but that, in practice, WebKit’s limitations make it difficult to implement certain features on online pages.
Since WebKit is mandatory on all browsers, not just on Safari, developers are left with nowhere to run.
The Apple browser for iOS (Safari) and its engine (WebKit) are underutilized in performance. Consistent delays in implementing important features ensure that the web is never a viable alternative to the platform’s proprietary tools and the App Store.
Apple denies monopoly
Apple has been defending itself against accusations of abuse or monopolistic practices in its ecosystem. The company says, among its arguments, that charging 30% commission on the App Store is standard on the market, giving as an example the Play Store, which has a similar fee policy (Fortnite has also been removed from the Google store, for similar reasons).
Another argument from Apple is that, while 30% is the maximum rate, most developers pay no more than 15% commission.
Whether it was the intention or not, Russell’s text has the potential to contribute to Epic’s arguments against Apple. It is not clear, however, whether the company will use the notes made by the engineer at the trial.
With information: 9to5Mac.
Tecnocast 189 – Trapped in the ecosystem
Technological trapping is present in just about everything we use today. It is caused by features in devices, applications or services, which make us dependent on that ecosystem.
In this episode, we talked about strategies that companies use to keep us trapped in their environments. Is there any way out? Play and check it out!