A US federal judge has overturned some of Apple’s App Store rules, forcing the company to allow developers to send their users to other payment systems in order to generate a partial profit for “Fortnite” inventor Epic Games and other app makers .
But the judge didn’t require Apple to allow app makers to use their own in-app payment systems, one of Epic’s key demands, and allowed Apple to continue charging 15 to 30 percent commissions for its own in-app payment system .
Epic said it would appeal the ruling, and CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted that the ruling was “no win for developers or consumers.”
The result led Apple’s critics and rivals to say they will turn to lawmakers, rather than the courts, to enforce the changes they are seeking.
US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers described her verdict as a “moderate” change to Apple rules.
Analysts said the impact could depend heavily on how the iPhone maker implements the decision.
Apple stock was down 3.2 percent late Friday afternoon US time, but many Wall Street analysts maintained their long-term positive outlook for the iPhone maker.
“We suspect that the effects of this will be manageable,” wrote Evercore ISI analyst Amit Daryanani in a statement to investors.
The verdict largely extends a concession Made last week to streaming video companies allowing them to direct users to external payment methods.
The decision extends that exemption to all developers, including game developers who are the largest funders of Apple’s App Store, which itself forms the basis of its $ 53.8 billion service segment.
The judge ruled that Apple can no longer prevent developers from providing buttons or links in their apps that direct customers to other payment options outside of Apple’s own in-app purchase system.
The ruling also states that Apple cannot prohibit developers from communicating with customers using contact information that developers receive after customers have signed up in the app.
The verdict comes after a three-week trial in May before Gonzalez Rogers of the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
Gonzalez Rogers didn’t stop Epic from granting some of his other requests, such as: B. Forcing Apple to open the iPhone to third-party app stores.
Apple said in a statement, “As the court recognized, success is not illegal.
“Apple faces fierce competition in every segment we do, and we believe customers and developers choose us because our products and services are the best in the world.”
In a media briefing, Apple’s legal department said they don’t believe the ruling will force developers to implement their own in-app purchase systems.
Apple officials said the company is still debating how to implement the ruling’s requirements and whether it will appeal.
The judge sided with Apple on important issues such as defining the relevant antitrust market as gambling transactions and rejected Epic’s argument that the iPhone is a separate app market over which Apple is a monopoly.
“Epic is fighting for fair competition between in-app payment methods and app stores for one billion consumers,” said Sweeney, CEO of Epic, on Twitter. “We will keep fighting.”
The Epic lawsuit began after the game maker added its own in-app payment system to Fortnite.
More challenges likely
The challenges to Apple’s App Store rules are far from over. The ruling suggests they are more likely to play in state houses and capital cities than in courtrooms.
Legislators in the US and Europe are considering bills that would force Apple to allow third-party in-app payment systems, and the South Korean parliament has already passed such a law.
“What today’s judgment also makes clear is that outdated antitrust laws cannot be determined by the courts alone,” said the Match Group, which has challenged Apple’s practices in Europe and owns the popular dating app Tinder.
“The monopoly practices of Apple and Google will not end until we bring our laws into the digital age, like South Korea did last week.”
The US Congress legislature said the ruling shows that courts alone will not address their concerns.
While Gonzalez Rogers failed to establish that Apple was a monopoly, she noted that the trial showed Apple violated California competition and had some “incipient antitrust violations” that required nationwide remedial action.
John Newman, a law professor at the University of Miami, said the ruling left US regulators with options to challenge Apple in court.
Reuters previously reported that the US Department of Justice is investigating the iPhone maker.
The orders follow Apple’s agreement last week with the Japan Fair Trade Commission, under which the rules for “reader” apps like Netflix make it easier to provide customers with a link to sign up for a paid account outside of the app.
Games make up a larger portion of Apple’s revenue.
However, whether the ruling will add to that revenue will depend on how Apple implements the changes.
“Apple could, to a degree, make it so that its in-app payments are still the easiest to use,” said Ben Bajarin, head of consumer technologies at Creative Strategies.