The iPhone Console

This episode came out just days before the all the drama between Apple and Epic happened so I’ll do my best to keep that out of this post as well. But its clear that this story is bigger than Apple and Epic, bigger than Congressional Hearing and much bigger than streaming games.

This comes down to one concept that new, the “duty to deal”. My understanding is the Supreme Court has said that companies do not have a “duty to deal” with other companies. The company should have full control over who it does business with even when your talking about a monopolist company

The Supreme Court in Trinko cautioned that forcing a monopolist to deal with a rival may "lessen the incentive for the monopolist, the rival, or both to invest in . . . economically beneficial facilities."

Basically the court is saying you dont want the government involved in this kind of negotiation. Forcing a company to play nice just leads to half assed work from both sides. But if you leave it between the companies to negotiate hopefully they can find a mutually beneficial agreement.

So taking this back to question of Apple’s control over the iPhone, legal precedent seems to suggest that apple can do whatever it wants with the iPhone. I haven’t heard any arguments that suggests theres any legal basis for compelling apple to open up the iPhone more to the likes of Microsoft (or Epic).

I really do like John’s underlining idea here that the iPhone is more like a game console than a “general purpose computer”, at least in Apples eyes. Like a game console then the make has full control over what hardware and what software can run on it. Theres little technical reason why Nintendo wont let Sony make games for the switch, they just dont want to so they dont have to. Take it a step further and you could say theres no technical reason we cant have third party web browsers on PS4, sony just doesnt think folks should use the ps4 to browse the web.

Everyone seems to think all this action from Apple is just about money and its really misunderstanding what motivates Apple internally. Apple has a very specific idea of what the iPhone is and what it isn‘t and they will be damed if they give up control over its future to another company.

In fact if you compare the iPhone to the Nintendo switch its hard to see the iPhone as the device with more restrictions put on it. Apple has allowed all kinds of apps that do all kinds of things and enabled entire new industries like Uber and Doordash to grow amazingly on the backs of its platform. Nintendo on the other hand takes a similar commission from its App Store but has no interest of letting you open CSV files on the Switch.