Apple, the tech giant, has announced a major change in its App Store policies that will allow developers to link alternative payment methods in their apps. The move comes after a lengthy legal battle with Epic Games, which challenged Apple’s monopoly on in-app purchases on iOS and iPad devices.
According to the new guidelines, this new rule only applies to the US App Store, which allows developers to link third-party payment options to their app as long as the app allows users to make purchases through Apple’s in-app purchasing system. However, there are several conditions that developers must meet:
- The apps must offer purchases through Apple’s in-app purchase system, which charges a 15% or 30% commission depending on the app’s revenue.
- The external links must follow Apple’s design and language requirements, and cannot replicate Apple’s in-app purchase system.
- The developers are responsible for managing all the accounts or purchases made outside the App Store.
- The users will see a warning screen before leaving the app, telling them that Apple is not responsible for the privacy, security, or quality of the external website.
A quick summary of glaring problems we've found so far:— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) January 16, 2024
1) Apple has introduced an anticompetitive new 27% tax on web purchases. Apple has never done this before, and it kills price competition. Developers can't offer digital items more cheaply on the web after paying a… pic.twitter.com/YkHuapG7xa
Apple claims that these requirements are designed to protect the privacy and security of users, prevent scams and fraudulent activities, and maintain the overall quality of the user experience.
However, some critics claim that Apple is still trying to maintain its control and profit from the app ecosystem, as it will take a 12% or 27% commission from developers who use external payment methods.
About the Legal Battle between Apple and Epic Games
The new rules are the result of the 2021 Apple vs. Epic Games lawsuit, which ended with a mixed verdict from the US District Court for the Northern District of California. The court ruled that Apple did not violate antitrust laws by operating a closed App Store, but also found that Apple’s rules, prevent developers from adding cheaper or alternative payment options. The court ordered Apple to allow developers to include external links to other payment methods in their apps by December 9, 2021.
However, Apple appealed this decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which granted a temporary stay on the injunction. Apple then petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear the case, but the court declined to do so on January 16, 2024, effectively ending the legal battle and requiring Apple to comply with the original ruling.