Apple promptly kicked Epic Games off the App Store.

The trial began on Monday – and is one of the most important in Apple’s history.

Apple boss Tim Cook will be giving evidence, the first time he’s given testimony at a trial.

At stake is the future of the App Store and the amount it charges developers – a wildly lucrative money spinner for the company.

The trial got off to a slightly chaotic start. The public hearing failed at first to mute those who were listening in via phone call, meaning calls v buck generator from fans for the return of Fortnite to mobiles were accidentally broadcast.

The storm began in August last year, when Epic Games laid a trap for Apple.

Its hit game Fortnite implemented its own in-app payment – bypassing Apple’s 30% charges.

Apple promptly kicked Epic Games off the App Store.

But Epic Games was waiting for just that.

It slapped Apple with a 65-page lawsuit – and had even prepared a high production video, a spoof of Apple’s iconic 1984 advert for the Apple Mac.https://www.youtube.com/embed/euiSHuaw6Q4?feature=oembedFigure captionWarning: Third party content may contain adverts

Epic Games has for years claimed the charges imposed on it by Apple are extortionate.

Their argument is simple: that Apple’s control over the App Store is anti-competitive.

It believes that developers should be able to make apps for smartphones without having to pay large sums to Apple (and to Google for Google Play purchases).

Spotify, Match and Tile are just a few of the many companies that have also claimed Apple’s charges are unfair.

Apple is estimated to have made hundreds of millions of dollars from Fortnite alone in charges.

Epic Games’ big argument is: if they don’t want to pay, then where else do they go to sell their products?

Fortnite's new payment option led to the game being kicked off the App Store
image captionFortnite’s new payment option led to the game being kicked off the App Store

Apple’s App Store and Google’s Google Play are the dominant global app stores, outside China.

Epic Games has tried to sell Fortnite away from these two stores. It tried to “sideload” the app on Android phones – to try and avoid Google’s own 30% charge. However, not enough people downloaded it away from Google Play.

Epic Games’ reluctant conclusion: if you want to make games for smartphones you have to be on either the App Store or Google Play.

‘Apple Tax’

But unwilling to lie down and accept the charges – which it calls an “Apple Tax” – Epic Games decided to sue Apple instead.

Worryingly for Apple, many of its App Store critics come from across the political divide.

In a Senate hearing two weeks ago, Apple’s Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer was grilled by lawmakers. Politicians of all stripes – usually so divided on policy – were united in their attacks on Apple.

Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal and Republicans Mike Lee and Josh Hawley all took up similar lines of questioning.

Senator Klobuchar said that Apple’s App Store was a “literal monopoly”.

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