The judge who presided over the Apple vs. Epic case largely sided with the tech giant, except in one area: She ruled that Apple must allow developers to direct users to other payment systems within their apps. Any changes the company has to make to App Store rules to accommodate for that must be in effect by December 9th, or so the judge originally ruled. But now, Apple has filed a notice of appeal (PDF via CNBC) asking for a stay on the injunction, which could push back developers’ ability to offer alternative means of payment by one more year.
In its appeal, Apple wrote that it “has already taken concrete, specific steps in the direction indicated by the Court’s opinion — including by agreeing to eliminate the prohibition on targeted out-of-app communications.” The tech giant argued that it “would be a poor use of resources” to require it to comply with the injunction due to the “near-inevitable litigation” from Epic regarding the scope of its compliance. “There is no reason to expend resources,”it said, adding that “a stay would maintain the status quo while the appellate process progresses to completion.”
Trystan Kosmynka, Apple’s senior director of App Review, also said:
“At a high level, it is my judgment that, without thoughtful restrictions in place to protect consumers, developers, and the iOS platform, this change will harm users, developers, and the iOS platform more generally.”
Allowing developers to add in-app links to external payment options would be a major shift for the company. It originally yanked Fortnite from the App Store when Epic offered buyers discounts and freebies if they make their purchases directly from the developer. Shortly after that, the tech giant removed Epic’s developer tools, as well. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney shared communications between the two parties back in September, wherein the tech giant said it wouldn’t allow Fortnite back in the App Store until all court appeals are exhausted. The process could take five years.
According to a previous analysis by the CNBC, the App Store had gross sales of around $64 billion in 2020. Apple typically takes a 30 percent cut from app purchases, though it recently lowered that to 15 percent for all apps that earn less than $1 million a year. Giving developers the means to accept alternative modes of payment could cost the company billions. As Bloomberg notes, however, the judge that issued the injunction didn’t specifically mention that the company can’t charge developers a commission for payments made outside the App Store. Whether Apple would still ask developers for a cut remains to be seen, though it would be a complex undertaking if it decides to do so.
A hearing has been set for Apple’s request to stay the injunction on November 16th, but it’s looking to move the proceeding to November 2nd.
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