Will The Empire Strike-back? Apple Ordered to Loosen Restrictions on App Store
3 min read
The Tech Battle Between Apple and Epic
It seems like almost everyday, Apple Inc. is in a new legal battle If you're not familiar with this case, Epic Games(Creator of Fortnite) sued Apple Inc. for removing its Fortnite App from the App store. Apple charges every app developer 30% of each app's revenue on in-app purchases. Epic tried to circumvent that 30% charge by sending users to its own landing page, where they would charge the user less and keep all the revenue. This is a clear violation of Apple's rule for developers, and Apple removed Epic's app from the app store immediately. Epic then in turn sued Apple, and stated that Apple has a monopoly over its ecosystem, and created an anti-competitive advantage when removing Epic's app from the App store. Epic wants Apple to allow apps to be downloaded on to the App Store. Apple argues that the App store is crucial to the security of its users, and allowing apps outside the app store to be downloaded, would undermine that. Apple has been facing scrutiny from regulators in Japan and South Korea. The banning of allowing app developers to circumvent the in-app purchases is creating a global discussion about the power of Apple and its grip on its App ecosystem.
The ruling is a sort of a win for Epic and Developers, and it's sort of not at the same time. U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers rejected Epic's claims that Apple should allow apps outside of the app store. But App developers can send users to cheaper pricing-options outside of in-app purchases. Apple recently reduced its 30% commission to 15% in late 2020. It was also revealed that the 30% commission is not vital to the operations of Apple, and that the 30% was really just "Industry Standard".
What This Means For Developers
The App Store ecosystem made $643 billion dollars in 2020, and provides 2.1 million jobs. It's without a doubt a force to be reckoned with, and being an app developer this new ruling does help developers, IMO. Now developers can add a "Tip" button or a "Donate" button in their apps without splitting the proceeds with apple. I have heard developers bemoan the fact that they must pay apple 30% commission on in-app purchases, and rightfully so. For lack of better examples, it can be seen as a mafioso strong-arm tax on developers who just want to make a living from the apps they create. Also I've heard developers talk about creating web apps and just circumventing the App Store all together. I knew Epic would have a hard time getting Apple to allow apps outside of the App store to be downloaded. That reminds me of the jailbreaking iPhone days where one could download an app that wasn't on the app store, but Apple voided the warranty if you did jail break it. So we all know that Apple doesn't play around with 3rd Party Apps being downloaded. Spotify actually has this in their app where they circumvent the in-app purchase and users must go through the annoying process of signing on spotify.com and then buying the subscription. So I'm a little confused on how they are able to do it, but Epic was not.
I see this as a win for Developers because now devs can receive various forms of revenue in which ever way the see fit. Also, I believe this is a win for the Consumer mainly because now that Developers have more freedom, they can create more apps and make a living while doing. Creating an ecosystem of harmony for all.