We’ve got spent five days in a San Francisco courtroom watching witness after witness within the Epic v. Google trial. We’ve heard rather a lot about Google’s app retailer dealings, principally from individuals who aren’t extensively recognized to outsiders. However at the moment, November 14th, we’re anticipating to listen to from Google CEO Sundar Pichai as he defends Google’s Android empire towards antitrust claims from the writer of megahit recreation Fortnite.
Exactly 1,188 days in the past, Epic sprung a legal trap and accused each Apple and Google of making unlawful monopolies with their respective app shops. It’s a combat that could shape the future of the Play Store, significantly if Epic will get its manner.
I’ll be bringing you Pichai’s testimony live from the courtroom right here. Earlier than it begins, right here’s a fast information to the trial up to now — together with the massive themes we’ll most likely see in play at the moment.
The trial dynamic: Epic demonizes; Google normalizes and deflates
Epic is making its case first within the trial, and its attorneys get first dibs on questioning the witnesses it calls. It sometimes spends this time making Google look unhealthy by highlighting some seemingly incriminating element — like how Google offered Epic $147 million to launch Fortnite on the Play Store as a result of it feared a “contagion danger” if prime recreation builders defected from Play. Then, Epic asks the witness a collection of questions designed to make it seem like they’re admitting or hiding one thing.
When Google’s legal professionals get a flip, generally a lot later, they explain that we’re merely seeing enterprise as regular. Google is an organization that’s fiercely competing to construct one of the best app retailer and smartphone it could, they argue — not sustaining monopoly earnings and suppressing competitors out of worry. They reveal (generally fairly efficiently) that Epic cherry-picked bits of testimony to make issues look extra black and white than they’re.
This distinction typically makes Epic v. Google look like a battle of simple v. complicated. However difficult can generally work in Google’s favor, as we noticed yesterday with an aborted OnePlus Fortnite installer deal; whereas Epic initially made it seem like Google blocked the Chinese language smartphone maker from successfully preloading Fortnite on its telephones, it now looks as if OnePlus may have merely determined to forgo some cash and standing by deciding on a special tier of cope with Google.
Pichai not too long ago appeared as a witness within the US v. Google antitrust trial arguing that Google was only a aggressive enterprise — count on him to do it once more right here.
Apple is the magic phrase
Did Google reduce offers with builders to battle the iPhone, or did it reduce these offers to guard its earnings on Google Play? Google, clearly, has spent a number of time arguing the previous. “You can not separate the standard of a cellphone from the standard of the apps in its app retailer, and meaning Google and Apple compete towards one another,” it stated in its opening testimony. That argument, if a jury buys it, may single-handedly win an antitrust case.
However day after day, Epic retains mentioning that Google doesn’t point out Apple fairly often within the inner paperwork that justified these agreements. In flip, Google is commonly relying instantly on witnesses to clarify they were thinking about the iPhone even after they weren’t writing it down. Anticipate Pichai to maintain mentioning Apple… and Epic to maintain asking why he didn’t do it extra visibly earlier than.
Google inked some sweetheart offers — did it have secret preparations, too?
Because of this trial, we’ve realized that Google made particular secret offers with Spotify, Netflix, and potentially other app developers to get unusually favorable charges when distributing their apps by means of the Google Play app retailer. On Thursday, Epic raised the notion that Google executives might need some secret anticompetitive handshake offers with executives at different firms, too — Samsung is one alleged example.
I can consider no less than one extremely controversial handshake deal that Google was a part of a few years in the past, however I ponder if Epic has extra proof. If that’s the case, I’d count on Pichai to get requested about it throughout the proceedings at the moment.
Google’s deleted chats hold biting it within the ass
We’ll by no means know whether or not Google — deliberately or inadvertently — deleted essential proof on this case. However the reality stays that a number of proof could be lacking. On the stand, worker after worker at Google has admitted they allowed inner Google Chat messages to be robotically deleted after 24 hours, regardless of being informed to protect proof and sometimes conducting official enterprise there. Epic has been driving that time house each likelihood it will get.
Epic has proven that some higher-ups at Google had been asking their colleagues to intentionally “turn history off.” And Pichai himself has made at least one such ask:
Actually, Epic has even proven some Google legal professionals appeared unaware of their authorized obligations, with one joking round with a colleague about how the corporate tried to create “Faux Privilege” by cc’ing legal professionals on emails it allegedly didn’t need seen. This hasn’t sat nicely with Decide James Donato, who’s overseeing the case; he’s hauling Google’s chief legal officer into court on Thursday to reply some powerful questions. If Google can’t clarify, the decide has threatened to subject a obligatory jury instruction. Whereas it’s not clear how refined or apparent that instruction could be, it’s a nudge which may inform the jury, proper earlier than they attain their verdict, that they shouldn’t belief Google as a lot as they in any other case would possibly.
You’ll be able to completely count on Pichai to get grilled about his firm’s alleged tradition of secrecy, too — and whereas it’s not a part of Epic’s core monopoly argument, it may have an effect on how a jury sees the case.