立即打开
苹果大战Epic,恐怕要这样收场

苹果大战Epic,恐怕要这样收场

Robert Hackett 2021年05月26日
无论法官如何裁决,有一件事情几乎是肯定的:如果一方上诉,这个漫长的诉讼故事将被继续拉长。

从与Netflix的秘密交易,到对苹果(Apple)首席执行官蒂姆•库克的拷问,再到关于《堡垒之夜》(Fortnite)中的香蕉人要不要穿衣服的讨论,Epic Game诉苹果案在长达三周、近100个小时的庭审之后,终于在5月24日落下帷幕。

二者的斗争在2020年8月爆发,当时Epic更新了其热门电子游戏《堡垒之夜》的iOS版本,并设置了一个“热修复补丁”,绕过苹果30%的应用内付费抽成。之后,苹果迅速将《堡垒之夜》从iPhone应用程序商店中移除。Epic因此提起诉讼,指控苹果滥用市场权力。此后这两家公司一直争论不休,直到今年5月24日的开庭——庭审的辩论方式接近审判程序,而不是通常的结案陈词。

虽然法庭在这场法律纠纷中会站在哪一边尚不清楚,但主持此案的美国地方法官伊冯•冈萨雷斯•罗杰斯给出了一些她想法的暗示。目前,她正在寻找反垄断的案例法——法官可能不愿意让苹果或Epic中的任何一方轻易取胜。

首先,冈萨雷斯•罗杰斯法官不太可能颠覆苹果的业务。据《金融时报》(Financial Times)报道,她曾经向Epic的法律顾问提问:“你能够给我找一个迎合你的诉求的反垄断案例吗?强迫一家大公司大幅改变其业务,比如让苹果公司允许在自家设备上安装多个应用商店程序?有得到法院批准的案例吗?”

“这一步相当重要,但是任何法院都未曾迈出过。”她说。

但是,冈萨雷斯•罗杰斯法官或也不会让苹果逃脱惩罚。有一次,她向苹果施加压力,责令其摆脱对应用商店的显著控制。“30%这个苹果税从一开始就一直存在。”她说,“如果真实竞争存在,这个数字或许就会改变——但事实上并没有。”在诉讼开始后,苹果将部分交易的费用降低到15%(包括小型开发商和第一年订阅后再次出现的收入),这一举措后来被谷歌(Google)仿效。

从根本上说,本案的核心问题是如何定义这个苹果本应与其他企业展开竞争的市场——这是典型的垄断者困境。苹果一直在极力说服所有人,告诉他人其面临着来自其他应用商店和设备制造商的激烈竞争,比如谷歌的安卓系统(Android)和三星(Samsung),从而证明其收取应用商店租金的合理性。与此同时,Epic一直在竭尽全力地指责,认为苹果对应用商店的严格控制是一种反竞争、贪婪和专横的行为。

如果你手握《堡垒之夜》里的“boogie炸弹”指着我的脑袋,质问我的猜测,我会说:苹果将被迫放松对开发商在应用商店中为其他付费方式打广告的禁令。冈萨雷斯•罗杰斯法官在审理过程中曾经暗示过这种可能性,与此前涉及美国运通(American Express)和铁路公司案件的司法判例相类似。

我猜测法院只会将这一调整应用于手机游戏市场——因为这是冈萨雷斯•罗杰斯法官提出的另一个暗示。如此缩小范围的裁决将减少对苹果整体业务的影响,而且或将有助于安抚部分愤怒无比的应用商店开发者——即使其对Match Group、Netflix和Spotify等其他不满的公司,以及无数的小公司,不起任何的安抚作用。

无论冈萨雷斯•罗杰斯法官如何裁决,有一件事情几乎是肯定的:如果一方上诉,这个漫长的诉讼故事将被继续拉长。(财富中文网)

编译:杨二一

从与Netflix的秘密交易,到对苹果(Apple)首席执行官蒂姆•库克的拷问,再到关于《堡垒之夜》(Fortnite)中的香蕉人要不要穿衣服的讨论,Epic Game诉苹果案在长达三周、近100个小时的庭审之后,终于在5月24日落下帷幕。

二者的斗争在2020年8月爆发,当时Epic更新了其热门电子游戏《堡垒之夜》的iOS版本,并设置了一个“热修复补丁”,绕过苹果30%的应用内付费抽成。之后,苹果迅速将《堡垒之夜》从iPhone应用程序商店中移除。Epic因此提起诉讼,指控苹果滥用市场权力。此后这两家公司一直争论不休,直到今年5月24日的开庭——庭审的辩论方式接近审判程序,而不是通常的结案陈词。

虽然法庭在这场法律纠纷中会站在哪一边尚不清楚,但主持此案的美国地方法官伊冯•冈萨雷斯•罗杰斯给出了一些她想法的暗示。目前,她正在寻找反垄断的案例法——法官可能不愿意让苹果或Epic中的任何一方轻易取胜。

首先,冈萨雷斯•罗杰斯法官不太可能颠覆苹果的业务。据《金融时报》(Financial Times)报道,她曾经向Epic的法律顾问提问:“你能够给我找一个迎合你的诉求的反垄断案例吗?强迫一家大公司大幅改变其业务,比如让苹果公司允许在自家设备上安装多个应用商店程序?有得到法院批准的案例吗?”

“这一步相当重要,但是任何法院都未曾迈出过。”她说。

但是,冈萨雷斯•罗杰斯法官或也不会让苹果逃脱惩罚。有一次,她向苹果施加压力,责令其摆脱对应用商店的显著控制。“30%这个苹果税从一开始就一直存在。”她说,“如果真实竞争存在,这个数字或许就会改变——但事实上并没有。”在诉讼开始后,苹果将部分交易的费用降低到15%(包括小型开发商和第一年订阅后再次出现的收入),这一举措后来被谷歌(Google)仿效。

从根本上说,本案的核心问题是如何定义这个苹果本应与其他企业展开竞争的市场——这是典型的垄断者困境。苹果一直在极力说服所有人,告诉他人其面临着来自其他应用商店和设备制造商的激烈竞争,比如谷歌的安卓系统(Android)和三星(Samsung),从而证明其收取应用商店租金的合理性。与此同时,Epic一直在竭尽全力地指责,认为苹果对应用商店的严格控制是一种反竞争、贪婪和专横的行为。

如果你手握《堡垒之夜》里的“boogie炸弹”指着我的脑袋,质问我的猜测,我会说:苹果将被迫放松对开发商在应用商店中为其他付费方式打广告的禁令。冈萨雷斯•罗杰斯法官在审理过程中曾经暗示过这种可能性,与此前涉及美国运通(American Express)和铁路公司案件的司法判例相类似。

我猜测法院只会将这一调整应用于手机游戏市场——因为这是冈萨雷斯•罗杰斯法官提出的另一个暗示。如此缩小范围的裁决将减少对苹果整体业务的影响,而且或将有助于安抚部分愤怒无比的应用商店开发者——即使其对Match Group、Netflix和Spotify等其他不满的公司,以及无数的小公司,不起任何的安抚作用。

无论冈萨雷斯•罗杰斯法官如何裁决,有一件事情几乎是肯定的:如果一方上诉,这个漫长的诉讼故事将被继续拉长。(财富中文网)

编译:杨二一

After nearly 100 hours of testimony ranging from secret deal-cutting with Netflix, to grilling Apple CEO Tim Cook, to discussions about a nude banana-man, the three-week-long Epic Games vs. Apple trial hearings concluded on May 24.

The fight erupted in August, when Epic updated the iOS version of Fortnite, its popular video game, with a “hot fix” to route around Apple’s 30% take on in-app payments. At that time, Apple promptly ejected Fortnite from the iPhone app store. Epic filed suit, alleging that Apple was abusing its market power. The two companies have been duking it out ever since, leading up to May 24’s “hot tub” session, which saw a debate-style close to the trial proceedings instead of the usual closing arguments.

While there’s no knowing which way the court will side in the legal spat, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who is presiding over the case, has offered some hints about her thinking. She is looking to antitrust case law, and she appears reluctant to hand either Apple or Epic an easy victory.

For one thing, it’s unlikely that Judge Gonzalez Rogers will upend Apple’s business. “Can you find me a single antitrust case where the type of relief you are requesting”—that is, forcing a large company to substantially alter its business; or, specifically, in this case, making Apple host multiple app stores on its devices—"has been granted by a court?” she once asked Epic’s counsel, as reported by the Financial Times.

“It is a pretty significant step that courts haven’t done.”She said.

But Judge Gonzalez Rogers likely won’t let Apple get off scot-free. At one point, she pressed the company on its apparent stranglehold over the app store. “The 30% number has been there since the inception,” she said at one point, referring to Apple’s general cut of digital payments. “If there was real competition, that number would move—and it hasn’t.” (After litigation commenced, Apple reduced the fee for certain transactions to 15%, including for small developers and for subscription revenues that recur after the first year, a move later copied by Google.)

Fundamentally, the question at the heart of the case is how one defines the market in which Apple supposedly competes; it is the classic monopolist’s dilemma. Apple has been trying mightily to persuade everyone that it faces stiff competition from other app stores and device makers, like Google’s Android and Samsung, thereby justifying its app store rent-taking. Epic, meanwhile, has been pulling out all the stops to argue that Apple’s tight grip on the app store is anticompetitive, greedy, and overbearing.

If you held a Fortnite “boogie bomb” to this columnist’s head and asked for his prediction, he would say this: Apple will be forced to ease up on its ban against developers advertising alternative payment options in the app store. It’s a possibility that Judge Gonzalez Rogers has alluded to during the proceedings, and it nods at judicial precedents from earlier cases involving American Express and railroads.

I suspect the court will apply this tweak only to the mobile gaming market, another idea Judge Gonzalez Rogers has floated. Such a narrowed ruling would reduce the impact to Apple’s overall business, and it might help to appease a particularly aggrieved segment of app store developers—even if it offers cold comfort to other discontents, such as Match Group, Netflix, and Spotify, alongside countless smaller fish.

However Judge Gonzalez Rogers rules, one thing is almost certain: Appeals will lengthen the saga.

最新:
  • 热读文章
  • 热门视频
活动
扫码打开财富Plus App