Judge will not force App Store to let Fortnite return

Fortnite has been pulled from Apple’s online mobile apps store. (Supplied)
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Updated 10 October 2020

Judge will not force App Store to let Fortnite return

  • Fortnite is an online video game developed in 2017

SAN FRANCISCO: A federal judge has denied the latest bid by Epic Games to force Fortnite back into the App Store while its lawsuit against Apple heads for trial next year.

The two firms are fighting over whether Apple’s tight control of the App Store, and its 30 percent cut of revenue, counts as monopoliztic behavior.

US District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who had previously rejected a similar request by Epic, rejected the battle royale game maker’s motion for an injunction ordering Apple to return Fortnite to the App Store immediately.

“Epic Games has never adequately explained its rush, other than its disdain for the situation,” Rogers said in a ruling denying an injunction ahead of trial. “The current predicament is of its own making.”

Apple pulled Fortnite from its online mobile apps marketplace on Aug. 13 after Epic released an update that dodges revenue sharing with the iPhone maker. In her latest ruling, the judge again compared any loss of business suffered by Epic due to Fortnite’s eviction by Apple to a “self-inflicted wound.”

Due to the legal row, Fortnite fans using iPhones or other Apple devices no longer have access to the latest game updates, including the new season released at the end of August.

Rogers expressed empathy for Fortnite lovers unable to get the game on Apple mobile devices.

“This is especially so during these continued difficult times that is the COVID-19 pandemic era, where gaming and virtual worlds are both social and safe,” Rogers said in the ruling.

“However, there is significant public interest in requiring parties to adhere to their contractual agreements or in resolving business disputes through the normal course.”

Rogers pointed out that Epic could get Fortnite back in the App Store by using Apple’s payment system for transactions.

Apple does not allow users of its popular devices to download apps from anywhere but its App Store, and developers have to use Apple’s payment system, which takes its cut. Epic is accusing Apple of being “a monopolist” due to its tight grip on the App Store.

The judge said at a recent hearing that she did not expect a trial over the dispute to start until July of next year, at the earliest, given her calendar.

The legal battle comes as Apple puts priority on selling digital content and subscription services to the one billion-plus people around the world using devices powered by its iOS mobile operating software.

Major app developers including Epic and streaming music giant Spotify recently formed a coalition to press for new terms with the major online marketplaces operated by Apple and Google.

Google runs a Play Store for apps tailored for devices powered by its Android software and also takes a commission, but people are free to get apps from other online venues.


Turkey holds rates in surprise that sends lira to new low

Updated 22 October 2020

Turkey holds rates in surprise that sends lira to new low

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s central bank bucked expectations for a big interest rate hike on Thursday and sent the lira plunging to a record low by holding its policy rate at 10.25% and saying it had already made progress in containing inflation.
The bank, which also surprised last month when it hiked rates, said it would continue with liquidity measures to tighten money supply. It raised the uppermost rate in its corridor, the late liquidity window (LLW), to 14.75% from 13.25%. A Reuters poll of 17 economists had expected the bank to raise its key one-week repo rate by 175 basis points to address Turkey’s weak currency and double-digit inflation. Forecasts ranged from hikes of 100 to 300 bps.
The decision to leave the rate unchanged sent the lira down more than 2% to near 8 versus the dollar and prompted economists to question the central bank’s commitment to lowering inflation and its independence from the government.
“The (bank) is now back to a more unpredictable and opaque monetary policy framework. It appears as a severe miscalculation,” Per Hammarlund, chief emerging markets strategist at Swedish bank SEB.
The key policy rate remains below annual consumer price inflation, which stood at 11.75% in September, leaving real rates negative for lira depositors.
Turkey’s central bankers had surprised markets with a 200 basis point rate hike in September, the first monetary tightening in two years as it sought to rein in inflation.
Its so-called backdoor measures to rein in credit have raised the average cost of funding to 12.52% from a low of 7.34% in July. The LLW adjustment gives the bank more scope to raise funding costs.
“A significant tightening in financial conditions has been achieved, following the monetary policy and liquidity management steps taken to contain ... risks to the inflation outlook,” the bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) said.
It said liquidity measures will carry on “until the inflation outlook displays a significant improvement.”
The lira touched a record low of 7.9845 against the dollar.
It is down 25% this year in a selloff prompted by concerns about high inflation and the central bank’s badly depleted FX reserves, and geopolitical worries including the prospect of trickier US ties under a possible Joe Biden White House.
Last month’s hike in the policy rate reversed a nearly year-long easing cycle in which it fell rapidly from 24%, where it was set in the face of a 2018 currency crisis.
“Last month the central bank took an important step to restore credibility and today’s decision seems like a step back. All this positive impact has been reversed significantly,” said Piotr Matys, senior EM FX Strategist at Rabobank.
Turkey’s economy contracted 10% in the second quarter because of the coronavirus pandemic and measures to combat it. Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are also clouding the outlook.