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Apple Judge Calls Out Nobel Winner’s Math in $10 Billion Suit

  • Professor ‘gave us no math and pulls numbers out of the air’
  • Consumers’ lawyers call academic’s work ‘relevant, reliable’

Photographer: Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty Images

The judge handling a lawsuit over alleged price-gouging at Apple Inc.’s App Store criticized a Nobel prize-winning economist’s analysis backing a claim by consumers for billions of dollars in damages, saying the expert witness “gave us no math and pulls numbers out of the air.”

Based on the methodology prepared by Daniel McFadden, a professor at University of California at Berkeley who was a co-winner of the 2000 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Apple owes iPhone customers $7 billion to $10 billion for charging “supra-competitive” prices for apps and in-app purchases at the online store, a lawyer for the customers said.

But that’s only if U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, allows the case to move forward as a class action on behalf of more than 400 million App Store users. It wasn’t clear at a hearing Tuesday that she will do that. In September, Gonzalez Rogers ruled largely in favor of Apple after a trial over similar claims in a case brought against the tech giant by Epic Games Inc.

Read More: Apple Must Face IPhone App Antitrust Suit, Supreme Court Rules

In questioning lawyers for the consumers, Gonzalez Rogers repeatedly knocked McFadden’s work. At one point, she complained that he’d provided “just six paragraphs” to explain his methodology, adding “he’s not an expert in any of it.”