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: Tim Cook to be Apple’s star witness Friday as antitrust trial wraps up

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Apple Inc. is saving its most powerful witness for last.

Chief Executive Tim Cook is scheduled to take the stand Friday to wrap up Apple’s
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case in the three-week-old antitrust trial with Epic Games Inc. Both sides will present their closing arguments on Monday before federal Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who will decide the bench trial.

According to an Apple legal strategist for the trial, Cook’s testimony will offer historic perspective on the App Store and Apple’s product philosophy, echoing testimony earlier this week from Phil Schiller, who ran marketing at Apple for years, and Craig Federighi, who leads the company’s engineering department. Both touted the “economic miracle” of the App Store as a safe and trusted place for consumers to discover apps.

Cook, who succeeded the late Steve Jobs as Apple CEO in 2011, will largely draw on what he has previously said about the App Store. In other words, don’t expect any Perry Mason moments but, rather, a sober assessment.

A hint of what Cook has to say can be traced to his opening statement to the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, commercial, and administrative law on July 29, 2020.

“The smartphone market is fiercely competitive, and companies like Samsung, LG, Huawei and Google have built very successful smartphone businesses offering different approaches,” Cook said in an opening statement to the subcommittee then.

“Apple does not have a dominant market share in any market where we do business,” Cook continued. “That is not just true for iPhone; it is true for any product category.”

Apple’s commissions, he later told the House subcommittee, are “comparable to or lower than commissions charged by the majority of our competitors” and “we have never raised the commission or added a single fee.”

(In 2019, the App Store ecosystem “facilitated” more than $500 billion in commerce globally, $138 billion in the U.S., according to an Apple-commissioned study by economists at the Analysis Group, Cook said in his 2020 statement.)

Epic Games is suing Apple in federal court in Oakland, Calif., for what it claims are price-gouging, monopolistic practices at the App Store. Apple is countersuing Epic for breach of contract, and insists the lawsuit is a public-relations ploy by Epic to squeeze out a sweetened commission deal to line its corporate coffers.

Cook’s testimony is expected to take up much of Friday, with closing arguments on Monday. Judge Gonzalez Rogers has allotted each company 90 minutes to summarize their cases. She is expected to ask a series of questions on technical issues, including what constitutes market definition — a key determinant in the closely watched trial, according to antitrust experts.

The anticipated appearance by Cook was preceded by a day of expert witness testimony on Thursday. Before they took the stand, Judge Gonzalez Rogers said she had not “decided what I’m going to do” but “one or both of you won’t be happy, so it’s going to go to the court of appeals.”

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