Apple's app store chief fends off attacks in antitrust trial

A member of Apple's legal team rolls exhibit boxes into the Ronald V. Dellums building in Oakland, Calif., as the company faces off in federal court against Epic Games on Monday, May 3, 2021. Epic, maker of the video game Fortnite, charges that Apple has transformed its App Store into an illegal monopoly. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A member of Apple's legal team rolls exhibit boxes into the Ronald V. Dellums building in Oakland, Calif., as the company faces off in federal court against Epic Games on Monday, May 3, 2021. Epic, maker of the video game Fortnite, charges that Apple has transformed its App Store into an illegal monopoly. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

SAN RAMON, Calif. – Apple’s top app store executive on Thursday faced an avalanche of documents unleashed Thursday by an Epic Games lawyer aiming to prove allegations that the iPhone maker has been gouging app makers as part of a scheme hatched by Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs.

The confrontation in an Oakland, California, courtroom came during the fourth day of an antitrust trial targeting the empire that Apple has built around its iPhone and the digital storefront that serves as the exclusive outlet for people to install apps on the ubiquitous device.

Epic, the maker of the popular Fortnite video game, contends Apple's insistence that apps to pay a 15% to 30% commission on transactions has turned into illegal monopoly that that should be blown up so other options can be offered on the iPhone, iPad and iPod.

Apple so far has mounted a fierce defense of its so-called “walled garden," in part by highlighting evidence that its app store commissions and practices mirror those of major video game consoles such as PlayStation, Xbox and Switch that Epic has embraced.

After spending the first three days of the trial soliciting testimony from Epic's own executives and other parties sympathetic to the company's case, Epic attorney Katherine Forrest and her supporting team took their first stab an Apple executive — Matt Fischer, who has been running the app store since 2010.

While Fischer was on the witness stand, Forrest repeatedly asked him to review e-mails and slide presentations revolving around the app store's finances, concerns about fraudulent activity and complaints about Apple highlighting its own services in the search results in the app.

Although significant sections of the documents were redacted to shield confidential business information, they still revealed intriguing tidbits.

For instance, a November 2010 slide presentation showed that the app store already had generated $2.1 billion in billings — far more than Jobs envisioned when he came up with the idea in 2008, a year after release of the first iPhone.