Apple spends $50 million on WWDC each year

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Phil Schiller
No one knows the App Store better than Phil Schiller.
Photo: Apple

Apple fellow Phil Schiller took the stand Monday in the Epic Games v. Apple lawsuit and during testimony revealed the cost of the annual Worldwide Developers Conference: $50 million. He’s in charge of both WWDC and App Store so he brings unique insight to the ongoing court battle.

This is one of many details the long-standing Apple executive talked about on the stand.

WWDC ain’t cheap

Schiller brought up the money spent on the annual WWDC to demonstrate that Apple doesn’t treat the App Store as a cash cow. It spends a lot of money to keep the iPhone ecosystem going. But the company also charged developers $1500 to attend before the event went virtual because of COVID-19.

The executive is trying to refute a point Epic Games is attempting to make. The game developer brought its lawsuit against the iPhone-maker in hopes of convincing a federal judge to order changes in the App Store. Most notably, it wants a reduction in the commission Apple takes on in-app purchases. Or perhaps its removal. As part that process,  Epic Games argues that Apple’s profit margin from the software store is excessive.

The Worldwide Developers Conference has been held each June for many years. It brings third-party developers together with Apple for training sessions. And the keynotes that start the annual event have become the traditional venue for unveiling the next major versions of macOS, iOS, iPadOS and watchOS. The 2021 edition will kick off June 7 in an all-virtual format because of the pandemic.

Tidbits from Phil Schiller

Phil Schiller became an Apple Fellow in 2020, but he still leads the App Store and is in charge of events like WWDC. Before then, he was also the company’s marketing chief.

Adding weight to his assertion that Apple invests in the iPhone ecosystem, he mentioned that the company is building a space at its Cupertino headquarters where third-party developers can work on their applications with support from Apple engineers.

Schiller says the App Store has 5,000 people working on refunds so developers can get their money back and stop providing services to customers who aren’t paying for them.

But during hours of testimony, his primary role was to throw sand on points Epic Games is making to Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. He rejects the assertions made by their expert witness that Apple has monopoly power over iPhone users, or that Apple is in a duopoly with Android-maker Google, for example.

All of Phil Schiller’s testimony so far has been “softball” questions from Apple’s lawyers. Epic Games will get its chance on Tuesday. Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to take the stand later this week.