Judge grills Apple exec about whether company is defying order to enable more iPhone payment options


In a recent courtroom showdown, a federal judge grilled Apple over its practices concerning alternative payment options in iPhone apps. The judge, Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, expressed doubts about whether Apple is truly making it easier for consumers to choose other payment methods as required by a court order. Instead, she suggested that Apple might be intentionally creating obstacles to steer users toward its own payment system, which charges hefty commissions on digital transactions.

The court order Gonzalez Rogers referred to mandates that Apple allow app developers to provide links to payment options other than its own in the U.S. This move aims to offer consumers more choices and potentially lower prices for digital services. However, Apple’s app store and its commission system have come under fire in multiple antitrust cases, including one filed by the U.S. Justice Department.

During the hearing, Gonzalez Rogers questioned Apple executive Matthew Fischer about the company’s compliance with her order. She seemed skeptical about Apple’s motives, suggesting that its efforts may be geared more toward protecting profits than facilitating user choice. Fischer defended Apple’s actions, stating that the company is trying to balance user security with its own financial interests.

Apple has introduced a new commission structure for digital transactions completed through alternative payment options, but Gonzalez Rogers expressed concern that the company might still be reaping excessive profits. She pressed Fischer on the number of apps offering alternative payment links, indicating that the current uptake is limited.

Epic Games, known for its popular Fortnite video game, has been a vocal critic of Apple’s practices and is pushing for broader changes. Epic argues that Apple’s current approach allows it to continue charging high commissions while stifling competition. Other tech giants, including Facebook, Meta Platforms, and Microsoft, have also voiced support for Epic’s efforts.

Apple, on the other hand, accuses Epic of seeking special treatment and attempting to avoid paying for the use of Apple’s tools and technologies. The court proceedings are ongoing, with Apple executive Phil Schiller expected to testify soon. While Gonzalez Rogers aims to conclude the hearings by May 17, the complex nature of the case may extend the timeline.


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