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Netflix ‘wouldn’t exist now’ if Apple App Store restrictions had always been so tight, Microsoft exec says

If Apple always imposed its current policies around subscription and interactive streaming apps, Netflix on the iPhone would not exist today. That’s the bold claim made by Microsoft Xbox vice president Lori Wright in her testimony in Oakland, California today during the ongoing Epic Games v. Apple trial.

Wright’s testimony, coming on the third day of the trial, included some of the biggest disclosures yet since Epic CEO Tim Sweeney testified on May 3 and 4. Part of the lawyer’s examination of Wright centered around Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud), the cloud gaming service Microsoft first revealed in 2018. 

The Xbox service is available for iOS users to play via the Safari browser, but Apple hasn’t approved it as a native app for iPhone and iPad users. Part of that, Wright said, is because xCloud allows customers to remotely access hundreds of video games without having to download the programs directly to their device.

During the testimony, Epic’s attorneys questioned Wright about how xCloud differs from other published apps on the App Store—such as Netflix, who let users stream movies and interactive game-like experiences, and Apple Arcade, Apple’s own first-party game streaming service. When asked about Apple’s currently strict policies around cloud streaming services on iOS, Wright said if Apple applied its judgement consistently more than 10 years ago, Netflix “wouldn’t exist now” on the App Store.

Wright’s testimony provided credence to both Apple and Epic’s arguments in the case. 

She explained the differences that exist between Xbox, which charges a 30 percent commission for digital game sales and in-app purchases, and the Microsoft Store on Windows. Microsoft announced on April 29 that it would reduce its cut to 12 percent for PC game developers that sell on the Microsoft Store, matching the Epic Game Store’s revenue share model of 88-12. Wright said Microsoft loses money on the production of Xbox consoles but is able to keep…