This week was marked by a big bullshit that has been going on for some years between Epic Games, developer of the hit Fortnite, and the giants Google and Apple. That's because the owner of the battle royale title disagrees with the 30% fees charged on the game's values on the App Store and Play Store. And this discontent has escalated to lawsuits and provocations – increasingly bold. And one of those nudges involves an iconic Apple commercial, aired in 1984.
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Well, to understand what happened, it is necessary to go back to the 1980s, when personal computers invaded writers and homes all over the world, mainly in the United States – it is worth mentioning that these machines, a decade before, were huge clutches, which occupied a lot space. IBM PCs dominated the market, thanks to user-friendly language at the time, Microsoft's version of BASIC; and MS-DOS, which later incorporated a graphical interface, now widely known as Windows. And that motivated the beginning of the disagreement between two young computer geniuses: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
In the early 1980s, Gates, who had already co-founded Microsoft alongside Paul Allen, developed MS-DOS and maintained, alongside Jobs, a graphical interface project for that program to integrate the upcoming Macintosh. However, after IBM joined MS-DOS and Microsoft BASIC in a millionaire contract, Gates would have used ideas shared with Jobs to launch Windows – and thus further expand IBM's advantage. To this day there are controversies about whether Gates “cheated” or not Jobs, a fact that he was a beast.
To prove he could make a better operating system, the then temperamental Jobs discarded what he had been developing with Gates and created the Mac OS (the embryo of macOS), with an approach that proved to be very complex for users in an industry that was still learning to walk wider paths. What Jobs wanted, even without Apple directors, was to get as far away from anything that resembled Windows.
So when the Macintosh was announced at the 1984 Super Bowl, the idea was to “break free” from IBM's PC dominance. The commercial refers to George 1984's book 1984, in which society lives under totalitarian command, governed by corporations; without freedom of choice for citizens. It was a way for Apple to criticize the competitor's “monopoly”, with something new that could revolutionize the current standard.
However, Mac OS proved difficult to understand for consumers, who practically already needed to learn at least one programming language to handle simple tasks on the machines. The result was the failure of Macintosh sales and the departure of Jobs from Apple. Later, with his new company, NeXT, Jobs refined his system, which took him back to Apple in the mid-1990s, with a much more friendly and efficient version – in 2010, this software would change its nomenclature only to OS X in 2012 and would be renamed to macOS in 2016.
The irony of Fortnite video
Well, knowing that, we go back to the events of this week. For two years now, Epic Games has been carrying out increasingly aggressive actions in its criticism of the business model practiced by Apple and Google in its virtual stores. Months ago, the developer had said it would find a way to circumvent App Store and Play Store policies within the system itself. Many people were wondering how this would be done and, on Thursday (13), Fortnite players were notified about the possibility of buying V-bucks (the game's internal currencies) with a 20% discount. For that, it was only necessary to select the direct transaction with Epic Games, with the alternative in the App Store and in the Play Store $ 2 more expensive.
(Image: Playback / The Verge)
Apple's reaction was immediate, and Google's followed shortly: the giants removed Fortnite from their mobile stores. And Epic Games already had an answer to that triggered. The developer made its own version of the 1984 Apple commercial as a way to criticize the “monopoly” that the company allegedly imposes at a 30% rate on third-party apps on the App Store – that is, it called the Cupertino Giant hypocrite between the lines.
Below you can see the comparison of the original ad and the version that was displayed within Fortnite itself, ironically named Nineteen-Eighty Fortnite, with an obvious reference to material carried by Apple in the past:
The most interesting thing here is that this was clearly planned. Epic knew that by adding in the direct payment they would, most likely, be removed from the app store thus given them grounds for the lawsuit and release of the short film. These things don't happen in meer hours.
– James Jarvis (@James_Jarvis) August 13, 2020
As if that were not enough, to make this message even clearer, Epic Games still quotes Jobs' words in his action against Apple in this case. On the first page of the process, the developer goes back to words that the co-founder of Apple said at the time of the 1984 commercial: “It seems that IBM wants everything. Apple is seen as the only hope of offering IBM competition over its profits … Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The whole Information Age? Was George Orwell right about 1984? ”.
This fight must still have many chapters and the question remains: how would Jobs react to all this if he were still alive?