After a long legal dispute, the US Supreme Court ruled today that Apple will have to relax some of its App Store policies. More specifically, the company now has to let developers offer alternative payment methods. Still, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney isn’t happy with the final terms and says the company will contest Apple’s “bad-faith compliance plan.”
Apple revises US App Store rules to let developers link to outside payment methods
Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Apple told 9to5Mac that it will revise the App Store guidelines to comply with the outcome of the Epic vs. Apple trial. However, the changes are not exactly what many developers had been waiting for.
Apple will indeed allow developers to provide links to alternative payment methods in their apps. However, there’s a catch. Similar to what happened in the Netherlands for dating apps, developers will still have to offer in-app purchases using the App Store sales system. This means that users will have the option of paying using the App Store or an alternative method.
But the thing is, Apple says it will charge a 27% commission on purchases made through alternative payment platforms. For small developers, the commission will be 12%. Currently, Apple charges 30% and 15% commission respectively. The company will periodically require accounting of qualifying out-of-app purchases in order to audit and tax developers.
In other words, the main benefit of selling items and subscriptions outside the App Store becomes ineffective, as Apple will still charge a commission. And considering that developers will have to pay the fees of an external payment platform, the cost could end up being even higher than selling that digital item using the App Store system.
Epic Games will contest the ruling
In a statement to 9to5Mac, Sweeney pointed out that Apple’s solution is “anticompetitive” since developers can’t offer digital items more cheaply on the web after having to pay both Apple and another platform. Epic’s CEO also says that Apple “dictates all aspects of these links” by forcing developers to place them “away from places where users actually buy stuff.”
Sweeney also criticizes the fact that Apple requires developers to open a generic session in a web browser, so that the user has to log in and search for the item they want to buy all over again. He also says that Apple uses a “scare screen” to disadvantage alternative payment platforms.
It’s unclear when exactly the new App Store guidelines will take effect in the US, but Tim Sweeney guarantees that Epic Games will contest Apple’s compliance plan in District Court.
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