Epic Games trial reveals Apple negotiations with Netflix, Facebook, and Microsoft - CNBC
May 07, 2021 2 mins, 31 secs
Eventually, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers will make a decision whether Apple must allow Epic to install its own app store on iPhones and bypass Apple's 30% App Store fee.

The documents paint a portrait of a company very aware of its highest-grossing and most important apps, that regularly engages in negotiations with companies including Netflix, Microsoft, Facebook and even Epic Games itself, whose Fortnite game was one of the top apps on Apple's App Store.

In February 2018, an Apple manager met with employees at Netflix and subsequently wrote an email to his colleagues summarizing the meeting.

One Apple employee said that Eddy Cue, Apple's online services chief, wanted to speak with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

Over the next two months, Apple employees met with Netflix to talk about the test and updated their bosses about Netflix's plans as Apple tried to schedule an executive meeting, according to the emails.

However, when the Facebook iPad app came out in 2011, it included web-based games such as Farmville — bending Apple's rule against app stores on its App Store.

In a 2017 email filed as part of court documents, a Facebook employee attached a short analysis ahead of a Facebook executive's meeting with Apple at Allen and Company's annual business conference in Sun Valley.

After one Apple rejection in March 2020, a Facebook employee described in emails frustration with the process and said that it "comes as a surprise given that FB Gaming includes no unique functionality that hasn't already been approved in the Games Tab inside the Facebook App.".

Before Apple removed Epic's shooter game Fortnite from the App Store, it was a top-grossing app on the store, and employees from both companies worked to seal cross-promotion deals, court filings reveal.

In exchange, Epic Games got promotion for Fortnite through the Apple App Store as well as through other Apple media properties such as Apple Music.

It also used its relationship with Apple employees to get a Fortnite ripoff kicked off the App Store.

One 2019 Epic Games email includes employees talking about a 2019 concert inside the Fortnite game featuring Marshmello, a DJ.

Apple needed permission to use the Fortnite name in its Apple Music playlists and ads, but Epic employees were waffling.

Another employee pointed out the benefits to Epic Games, including that the company wanted Apple to sponsor future Fortnite events and that they saw big opportunity for the game's growth among iPhone players.

Shortly after Apple released a high-end iPad model with a new 3D scanner, an Apple employee offered Epic Games a meeting with Apple's ARKit team that made the software for it and later dangled the possibility of promotion at its annual developer conference.

In 2018, after Fortnite had been released and had gained momentum, Epic Games co-founder Mark Rein replied to an email, asking, "[I]s there anything we can do so Apple could get behind us in a major way?"

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