This is one of the more interesting metaphors you could apply. Walled garden has been used so long for Apple’s modern eco-system that it is the defacto definition, if not the dejure definition of the App Store. Using the metaphor that Apple is a carrier: seems highly appropriate, but sadly, I think paints the case that Epic should win.
You see companies are first of all in the business of staying in business. For some reason, the FUPM scene from Goodfellas is playing in the back of my mind. What is good for users, and customers, is not always what is perfect for businesses. I like to believe what is good for the customer should be good for the business if you achieve a fair compromise rather than a big stick.
The real moral of this story is that large one sided monopolies are bad. Carriers like Verizon and AT&T got away with all but murder because of the extent of their power over their own networks. To be fair, when it’s “Yours”, you should have some say in that. I believe that the whole digital signatures thing for installing apps on modern platforms is a great thing. The difference is kind of in implementation: Apple runs the App Store, and they should have power over it. Much as Google does over Google Play. But one of the twists is that on Android: the user is the last stop on the right to install software. On iPhone: Apple has total control. In my opinion users should have more control over the software they can install, not more control over a provider’s store front.
Having stopped sewing people at the drop of a hat, Apple has been doing a fair job of obeying Wheaton’s Law—don’t be a dick. Which is key to prolonging your monopoly and circumnavigating confrontations like Epic vs Apple. Because if you’re more benevolent than malevolent it is harder for your enemies to gather strong support, and come for your bottom line.
The greater your enrage customers and businesses in between: the more support potential adversaries can build. Carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless have done the big stick to beat down companies and shove up users keesters so well, that pretty much no one loves them for it. Eventually if you’re a big enough dick: someone will punch you in the nuts.