Apple’s grip on App Store loosened by US judge

Apple Inc . Updates

Apple’s grip on its App Store was loosened by a US federal judge who ordered the iPhone maker on Friday to stop interfering with apps that want to pay outside of the store. their.

So far, Apple has banned apps that include links or even notify their customers that they can sign up for or purchase digital items outside of the App Store, such as through a website. web. Meanwhile, the Cupertino company charges a 15-30% fee on the payments it processes.

United States District Judge Yvonne González Rogers said this behavior is “anti-competitive” and “permanently” forcing Apple to discontinue apps that include “buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to a purchase mechanism, in addition to Purchase app”.

Shares of Apple fell 2.5% following the news.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite, in August 2020. Epic introduced changes to Fortnite earlier that month to bypass Apple’s App Store payment system. , causing Apple to block the game.

Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic, called Apple a monopolist and said in a Interview with CNBC that “If every developer can accept their own payments and avoid the 30% Apple and Google tax, we can pass the savings on to all of our consumers and players. “

However, the judge said she could not conclude that Apple was a monopolist “under federal or state antitrust law”. She added that it is impossible not to prove that Apple operates an illegal monopoly, but “Epic Games has failed in its responsibility to prove” this.

She said the $100 billion games market was “ripe for economic exploitation” but said Epic was “out of the box”. She also denied Epic’s claim that customers can bypass the App Store by downloading the app, and said she doesn’t see Apple’s commission as a violation of competition law.

Sweeney said after the ruling that it was not a win for developers or for consumers. He said Fortnite will return to the iPhone when “Epic can offer in-app payments that fairly compete with Apple’s in-app payments.”

Apple this month give a small concession to the developers of so-called “reading apps” such as Netflix and Spotify, allowing them to include links to their own websites to bypass App Store fees. But gaming apps — which account for about three-quarters of the App Store’s revenue — are clearly not included in the new deal.

Apple welcomed the ruling in a brief statement, applauding the judge for admitting that “success is not illegal.”

“We are extremely pleased with this decision. It’s a resounding victory,” said Kate Adams, Apple’s general counsel.

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