Apple Appeals Epic Verdict in Pursuit of Total Victory
Epic and Apple are not on the best of terms after the former sued, claiming the iPhone maker was abusing its monopoly by locking developers into its app platform. The court disagreed, handing Apple a win on nine out of ten counts. That last one, however, could be a thorn in Apple’s side as it gives devs a way to avoid App Store fees. So, Apple has opted to appeal the case, which it previously called a “resounding victory.” The company wants to upgrade that to “total victory,” it would seem.
Epic was looking for a lot of changes when it sued Apple, all of which stem from the treatment of Fortnite on the App Store. When Epic added a non-Apple purchase option to the game just over a year ago, Apple immediately suspended the game. The outcome of the case wasn’t what Epic hoped for, opening up just one narrow exception in the App Store’s rules. The court said that Apple has to allow developers to offer subscriptions and other content outside the App Store, and they may communicate that to their users in the app.
Apple is staunchly opposed to opening up the App Store in any way. So much so, it would seem that it’s willing to drag this case out even longer. The company has asked the court to suspend the rule change, which is set to take effect in December. Apple contends that it didn’t actually violate California’s anti-steering rules because it has already agreed to remove the offending part of the App Store Guidelines. However, that doesn’t seem entirely accurate. Apple has promised to “clarify” those rules, but it wasn’t willing to let developers link to other payment systems.
While Apple put on a brave face after the ruling, executives might be getting worried about what this anti-steering change could mean. The ruling said that developers could include “buttons, external links, or other calls to action.” However, the nature of what such a button could do is unclear. Does it mean just a link or could it be an “add to cart” button? The latter could completely upend the App Store model and siphon millions of dollars from Apple’s coffers. Of course, the filing points to security and privacy concerns, but it’s probably the money part that has Apple spooked.
We don’t yet know if the court will accept Apple’s appeal. Even if it does, there’s no guarantee Apple will get the delay it’s seeking. The anti-steering rules are set to go into effect in December, and it would be hard to make developers go back and change everything after they start poking holes in the walled garden.