Epic and Apple are not in great shape after the former defendant alleged the iPhone maker abused its monopoly by tying developers to its app platform. The court disagreed, giving Apple a win nine out of ten. However, the latter could be a thorn in the side of Apple as it gives developers a way to avoid App Store fees. Apple has therefore decided to appeal what it previously called an “overwhelming victory”. The company wants to upgrade that to a “total victory” it seems.
Epic was looking for many changes when it sued Apple, all of which were due to Fortnite’s treatment on the App Store. When Epic added a non-Apple purchase option to the game a little over a year ago, Apple immediately discontinued the game. The outcome of the case wasn’t what Epic had hoped for, and just opened a narrow exception in the app store’s rules. The court said Apple must allow developers to offer subscriptions and other content outside of the App Store, and they are allowed to communicate this to their users in the app.
Apple is firmly against opening the App Store in any way. So much so that it seems ready to drag this case out even longer. The company has asked the court to suspend the rule change, which is scheduled to take effect in December. Apple claims that it hasn’t actually broken California’s anti-steering rules, as it has already agreed to remove the offending portion of the App Store’s policies. That doesn’t seem entirely true, however. Apple promised to “clear up” these rules, but was unwilling to let developers link them to other payment systems.
While Apple put on a bold face following the ruling, executives may be concerned about what this anti-steering change could mean. The ruling stated that developers could include “buttons, external links, or other calls to action.” However, it is unclear what such a button could do. Is it just a link or could it be an “Add to Cart” button? The latter could completely turn the app store model upside down and suck millions of dollars out of Apple’s coffers. Of course, the filing points to security and privacy concerns, but it’s likely the cash piece that scared Apple.
We don’t yet know if the court will accept Apple’s appeal. Even if it does, there is no guarantee that Apple will get the delay it wants. Anti-steering rules are slated to go into effect in December and it would be hard to get developers to go back and change everything after they started drilling holes in the walled garden.