back to article Apple wins Epic court ruling: Devs will pay up for now as legal case churns on

Apple will not be required to implement third-party in-app payments systems for its App Store by 9 December, after a federal appeals court temporarily suspended the initial ruling on Wednesday. As part of its ongoing legal spat with Epic, a judge from the Northern District Court of California said Apple wasn’t a monopoly, but …

  1. seven of five Silver badge

    Apple argued that if it was forced to allow third-party payments systems in iOS apps by 9 December, the App Store would have to be overhauled, making it more difficult for consumers, developers, and the company to navigate the platform.

    Yeah, right.

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Apple argued that if it was forced to allow third-party payments systems in iOS apps by 9 December, the App Store would have to be overhauled, making it more difficult for APPLE TO EXTRACT THE 30% FEES FROM developers..

      I have corrected Apples statement to show what they really meant.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's horrible now, how much worse can it get?

      Seriously, for a company that makes you view a full page of ads for junk apps every time you have to install app updates, then hit a TINY round Icon that is literally unlabeled to actually get to the screen to install those updates, I have to wonder how much worse even a badly implement third party payment system would be.

      The bloody idiots required you to use a program called iTunes to manage OS updates, file transfers and app updates for how long again?

      Search in the App store is also hot garbage.

      Epics arguments for 3rd party payments were crap, so I am not surprised those got spanked down in court so far, but Apples response was pretty galling as well.

      This is not the court case that will fix the deep seated problems in the app store for developers or users.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's horrible now, how much worse can it get?

        iTunes doesn't actually exist any more so you might want to update your bias a little bit.

        What was called iTunes is now called Music and managing iOS devices has been moved in to the finder. app on MacOS.

  2. jmch Silver badge
    Facepalm

    What BS!

    "if it was forced to allow third-party payments systems in iOS apps by 9 December, the App Store would have to be overhauled, making it more difficult for consumers, developers, and the company to navigate the platform"

    That statement makes zero sense. Apple, who exert the most anal level of microcontrol over every single aspect of their technology, are unable to make a payment system change without upheaving their whole App Store???

    I can imagine the actual briefing contained a bunch of random technical words strung together to engage the judge's dummy mode, a la BOFH.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: What BS!

      They don't need to change anything, the apps have the additional code to call an external payment service... That doesn't touch the store at all.

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: What BS!

      It makes perfect sense.

      It's not the technical aspects of the overhaul that are difficult, it's the financial aspects. How to safeguard the revenue stream when they risk losing 90% of App Store revenue overnight. Do we ban free apps? Increase dev fees to compensate? Allow 3rd party payment links but deprecate and demote them where possible? Come up with a completely new business model?

      This is what they mean by overhaul.

      1. sketharaman

        Re: What BS!

        Totally agree. In another comment, I speculated that Apple could charge a fixed listing fee on *all* apps whether or not they generate revenues from AppStore (and elimiinate the current practice of charging a 30% variable fee on sales only on apps that generate revenues from AppStore.)

  3. gnasher729 Silver badge

    Apple has _always_ allowed in-app purchases outside your app, without payment. They just didn’t allow them from within the app.

    But then chances of Epic ever getting back on the AppStore are less than slim.

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Facepalm

      "allowed in-app purchases outside your app"

      Please, explain us how an in-app purchase can happen outside the app...

      1. sketharaman

        Re: "allowed in-app purchases outside your app"

        I don't know if that's what the OP means but it's very much possible to make purchases of in-app products outside an app: Log in to app's website; make purchase of virtual good; login to app with same creds; said virtual good is automatically made available as in-app product.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: "allowed in-app purchases outside your app"

          It's still not an in-app purchase. An in-app purchase means you don't need to leave the app but you can do it from the app itself. It doesn't mean to buy something outside the app to be used inside the app.

          Apple very well knows that making users' purchases more difficult through channels it can't control and profit from means more users will use the channels Apple can easily profit from. Nor Apple could have denied any kind of outside app purchases because it would have put it into troubles quicker.

          The book price fixing case (United States v. Apple Inc., 952 F. Supp. 2d 638), is still there to remind it there's still risks if pushing things too far. It could also put Apple against companies like Adobe which are critical to the Apple ecosystem.

    2. DJV Silver badge

      "allowed in-app purchases outside your app"

      I think the Register forums need an extra link on posts in addition to the one that says "Report abuse". The extra one should read "Report utter stupidity".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "allowed in-app purchases outside your app"

        I guess what they mean is that you can make purchases for use in your app, but if you want to dodge the fee you have to do this outside of the app itself (eg by visiting a website)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "allowed in-app purchases outside your app"

          https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/#business

          3.1.3(b) Multiplatform Services: Apps that operate across multiple platforms may allow users to access content, subscriptions, or features they have acquired in your app on other platforms or your web site, including consumable items in multi-platform games, provided those items are also available as in-app purchases within the app.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      They also allow third-party payment services for goods that are delivered physically, for example if you buy some clothes using your retailer's app.

  4. big_D Silver badge

    Dramatically overhaul the app store?

    Sorry, the apps would have a link to a third-party payment provider, THE APP, I don't see how the App Store needs to be overhauled for that...

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Dramatically overhaul the app store?

      They need to adjust the search algorithm so that apps using Apple's payment systems are ranked higher than those that don't...

      1. X5-332960073452
        Megaphone

        Re: Dramatically overhaul the app store?

        That's no joke

    2. Mark #255
      Mushroom

      Re: Dramatically overhaul the app store?

      Also, given that they're having to do the exact same thing in South Korea, I'm slightly worried about the competence of their programmers if this is taking so long.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Dramatically overhaul the app store?

        I don't believe Apple are doing this in South Korea. To wit:

        Apple, on the other hand, has said it already complies – although government officials have a different interpretation of "compliance". The matter remains unresolved, which may be why South Korea has introduced these penalties.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Epically wrong.

    I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me like Apple is 110% correct so far.

    They created the App Store platform, the first and still the best, they provide all the reliable hosting (fact: the App Store is up way more than Azure is), they provide advertising, discovery, storage, deployment, versioning, a secure payment and delivery channel and much, much more.

    30% is cheap for what these whiny people get from Apple. Epic should be paying Apple for the privilege of hosting their shoddy games with them. Without Apple, Epic would still be shipping “you are in a twisty maze and your lamp is dim” text adventures for the C64. Although it often seems like it, Apple is not a charity.

    Why is Apple being punished for being the good guys again?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Epically wrong.

      Why should I have to pay 30% extra, when I buy an audio book or ebook on Audible or Kindle?

      How exactly am I benefiting from the service Apple is providing? I already have a payment relation with Amazon, for example, so going through ApplePay is another step and it costs me more.

      I understand that they need to cover the costs of the store, but 30% of processing a payment that doesn't have anything to do with the App Store is ludicrous. If it was more reasonable (under 10%), I doubt most would complain, that would be the processing fee (2-5%, plus the excess going to running the platform).

      For smaller or fly-by-night outfits, I can understand going through ApplePay, but Amazon & Co., where I already have a relationship?

      Provide me with two payment options, ApplePay or direct and let me choose, whether I think the additional safety of the payment with Apple is worth the 30% extra.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Epically wrong.

        Using Amazon as a counterpoint to why Apple is bad does not make for a strong argument.

      2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Epically wrong.

        "How exactly am I benefiting from the service Apple is providing?"

        Can you access the App Store from your device? Is it safe to use, fast, reliable and tailored to your preferences? Are the apps themselves curated and high quality? Can you install them without having to learn what sideloading means?

        That's what you get as an end user. And devs pay the 30% because it's worth that to them to get their app in front of your eyes in that safe curated environment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Epically wrong.

          Only it it not really delivering most of the "benefits" you are touting. You get partial credit for app safety, as it is at least better than the open sewer that the android/play/google store. It's not fast, reliability? nope it's a forced single point of failure, and if it's down, you can't provide your own redundancy or fail over, either as a Dev or a user. And like AWS, it has downtime. It has had "glitches" where it would cause download storms that can cripple even a gig uplink.

          Tailored to your preferences is a full on howler. It tries to force feed you a stream of targeted ads that maximize Apples revenue, not the developer. It has zero relevance to me, and actively bars me for changing that behavior to match my actual preferences, which are "If I want an app I will search for it thank you, otherwise leave me the bleep alone"

          Also search sucks, consistently failing to list literal string matches, and returning pages of ripoff and knockoff apps.

          As for app curation and quality, that's a partial, as there is LESS outright malware floating around then some of the alternate stores, but that is only relative praise. And they still let fly by night shysters upload knockoff apps to flood adware and clickbait junk cashing in on user confusion when trying to download established and quality free apps. They still haven't created a way for open source developers to publish their works as equal citizens, and still turn a mostly blind eye to people compiling open source projects and then offering them as for paid apps or adware on the store.

          That's what you get as an end user. Between that and the anti-competitive aspects you completely gloss over, a 30% cut is indefensible. Even their partially reduced cut isn't in the ball park.

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Epically wrong.

            @AC, you're a liar and a troll. Back to your Android dungeon.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Epically wrong.

          I can access the App Store without buying anything in the Audible or Kindle apps... Well, actually, it is impossible to buy in the Audible and Kindle apps on iOS, I have to switch to my Android phone and buy them there... Or, now that the Android phone has been reset and passed on, I have to do it in the browser.

          That is a step backwards in comfort and usability in the Apple ecosystem, compared to Android...

          There are other benefits to iOS, so I'm sticking with it, but it is still not ideal.

        3. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Epically wrong.

          You asked, so I'll answer.

          "Can you access the App Store from your device?": Yes.

          "Is it safe to use,": I guess so. I don't view that as a high bar, though. A lot of software is safe to use without justifying it being forced on me with mandatory payments.

          "fast, reliable": Not really. Updates don't show up instantly, sometimes they don't download right and I have to press again. I've had Signal tell me that a new version is available when Apple doesn't think it's true.

          "and tailored to your preferences?": Not in the slightest. My preference would be for the old layout where the search and updates tabs were not hidden and where search would at least find the app you typed in rather than show five unrelated ads and go into the results list organized with bogosort.

          "Are the apps themselves curated and high quality?": No. They're just what was sent in. A lot of crap apps are there. Apple only tries to keep out active malware and stuff that competes with theirs.

          "Can you install them without having to learn what sideloading means?": By definition, yes, but the implied argument is a tautology. People on Windows can manage to install software without having to learn the word sideloading, so it doesn't seem to be a problem. I could as easily say that sideloading should be the only mechanism because then you wouldn't have to learn how the store app works, but that would be just as weak.

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Epically wrong.

            "You asked, so I'll answer.

            "Can you access the App Store from your device?": Yes.

            +1.

            "Is it safe to use,": I guess so. I don't view that as a high bar, though. A lot of software is safe to use without justifying it being forced on me with mandatory payments.

            No. Creating and curating a safe app environment is a lot of work, taking a lot of time and money to do right. As an example of how NOT to do it, have a look at the Google Play Store from a couple of years ago. It's better now, and you'll note that they charge the same 30% that Apple do.

            "fast, reliable": Not really. Updates don't show up instantly, sometimes they don't download right and I have to press again. I've had Signal tell me that a new version is available when Apple doesn't think it's true.

            Then Signal has a bug. Don't blame Apple for your app's deficiencies.

            "and tailored to your preferences?": Not in the slightest. My preference would be for the old layout where the search and updates tabs were not hidden and where search would at least find the app you typed in rather than show five unrelated ads and go into the results list organized with bogosort.

            I'll kind of give you this, although if the app you're looking for is in the Store, it'll be shown up top. If not, Apple will suggest others (with varying degrees of success) that it thinks might match what you're looking for. Bear in mind most users don't know the exact name of the app they're looking for, so nonexact matching is a valid methodology.

            "Are the apps themselves curated and high quality?": No. They're just what was sent in. A lot of crap apps are there. Apple only tries to keep out active malware and stuff that competes with theirs.

            Flat out wrong. Points for trolling though.

            "Can you install them without having to learn what sideloading means?": By definition, yes, but the implied argument is a tautology. People on Windows can manage to install software without having to learn the word sideloading, so it doesn't seem to be a problem. I could as easily say that sideloading should be the only mechanism because then you wouldn't have to learn how the store app works, but that would be just as weak."

    2. Our Lord and Savior Rahl

      Re: Epically wrong.

      Am I thinking of the wrong Epic?

      The one I was thinking of is the ones who created Unreal, Unreal Tournament, and the Unreal Engine that powers oh so many games. With the Unreal Engine definitely predating the App Store by a considerable margin...

      Though to be fair, I don't give two hoots who wins this court battle, it's so far down the list of things I really care about - Epic hasn't remade UT99 in the latest engine because they've inflicted Fortnite on the world and realised that's their cash cow so I hate them both.

      But I do take odds with the "Without Apple, Epic would still be shipping “you are in a twisty maze and your lamp is dim” text adventures for the C64. Although it often seems like it, Apple is not a charity."

      Hell even the spectacularly commercially successful Gears of War predates the App Store by 2 years.

      An ideal ruling for me would be to ban the sale or release of any games on a mobile device ever. Because I'm old and I don't like them and I prefer my shooters with a keyboard and mouse thankyou very much.

    3. Alex Stuart

      Re: Epically wrong.

      > Without Apple, Epic would still be shipping “you are in a twisty maze and your lamp is dim” text adventures for the C64

      What on earth are you talking about? Ever heard of Unreal or Gears of War?

      Even if you'd never heard of them and only know of Fortnite, only a minority of its playerbase is mobile - over 75% played on PS/XBox in 2018.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Epically wrong.

      I'm not a doctor, but it seems you've not taken your dried frog pills today.

      > They created the App Store platform, the first and still the best,

      I'm sorry, I didn't realise Apple was spun out of Valve? Or did it used to be a part of Stardock? Like most things that aren't pure marketing, Apple have not been a leader in this space.

      If the App Store is really so much better than any other, then Apple would have nothing to fear from having it compete on its own merits in a competitive environment.

      > (fact: the App Store is up way more than Azure is)

      Fact: The Apple App Store (a file server and rating website) is incomparable to Azure (a multi-tenant virtual server platform).

      > they provide advertising

      chuckle

      > discovery

      guffaw

      > 30% is cheap for what these whiny people get from Apple

      Epic, and many other developers, already have the services to provide everything Apple is offering. 30% is a lot for absolutely no added value.

      > Without Apple, Epic would still be shipping “you are in a twisty maze and your lamp is dim” text adventures for the C64.

      Top bait!

      > Why is Apple being punished for being the good guys again?

      Because not everyone agrees with your personal definition of "good"?

      1. BrownishMonstr

        Re: Epically wrong.

        I, sir, am a proud iPhone user and awaiting delivery of my new shiny-shiny iPhone 13 Pro Max , since I felt like upgrading after four years of using my 8 Plus.

        But, fuck me, does he chat shit.

        If you find yourself on a cesspool called "Reddit", which I am now a frequent user, you'll find a lot of people defending Apple and their recent win of "Not allowing other App stores" on iOS. The small number who argue this is bad, get downvoted to oblivion.

        Which makes me think, I wonder how much Apple Inc have donated recently, they're getting a lot of wins.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Epically wrong.

          "I, sir, am a proud iPhone user and awaiting delivery of my new shiny-shiny iPhone 13 Pro Max , since I felt like upgrading after four years of using my 8 Plus."

          Just the one? I'm happily awaiting delivery of the 14 or iPhones being delivered by Amazon in various shipments they keep calling me about on the landline :-)

    5. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Epically wrong.

      You're absolutely right AC, but will be epically (sorry) unpopular for saying it in this here Apple hatin' town.

    6. gotes

      Re: Epically wrong.

      Why is Apple being punished for being the good guys again?

      LOL

      Is this guy for real?

    7. sketharaman

      Re: Epically wrong.

      Totally agree. What Apple is charging is a 30% commission on sales, which is very much industry standard in the software industry (although it's getting wrongly interpreted as 30% MSC / MDR, which is ridiculously high). I wonder what will happen if Apple turns around and tells *all* apps to pay a flat listing fee, whether or not they generate revenues from AppStore, instead of the 30% variable fee it currently takes only from apps that generate revenues from AppStore.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple Pay, eStores?

    I’m still struggling with new pence and all….

    Humbug

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Apple Pay, eStores?

      Yeah, there was nothing wrong with using base 12 and base 20 at the same time when working out your finances. Much more fun than this newfangled base 10 money.

  7. cawfee

    The difference between Apple and 3rd party payment options

    Is that I actually trust Apple to not spaff my card details all over the internet.

    1. Packet

      Re: The difference between Apple and 3rd party payment options

      I don't pay more for a book or music as another poster mentioned - that 30% take doesn't apply to that.

      Unless I'm very much mistaken this morning...

      My view: if I create an app platform, I can charge what I like on it, with my payment processor, etc - letting the consumer / developer market decide if they want to sustain it.

      Epic's claim is just without merit.

      1. BrownishMonstr

        Re: The difference between Apple and 3rd party payment options

        I don't think anyone would give a toss, really, if Apple allowed users to install other App Stores. But they don't, so it's either pay that 30%, or don't have access to iOS users.

        In my opinion, it is wrong and Apple should be forced to allow users to add other App Stores. I am happy using the App Store, but the option should be there.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: The difference between Apple and 3rd party payment options

        I entirely agree with your opinion as based on your facts. Unfortunately, all your facts are wrong, which is why your opinion and the one I'd like to share doesn't work.

        "I don't pay more for a book or music as another poster mentioned - that 30% take doesn't apply to that. Unless I'm very much mistaken this morning..."

        You are very much mistaken this morning. Those are digital things, so if you use IOS to buy them, you pay Apple a fee even though you're getting the item from someone else's app. You can buy them elsewhere and transfer them onto the device, but without doing that, you're not allowed to buy them from anyone else or even to be told that you have that option.

        "My view: if I create an app platform, I can charge what I like on it, with my payment processor, etc - letting the consumer / developer market decide if they want to sustain it."

        I agree, and if we had a choice, then Apple could do what they like. Everyone could decide whether they want to use Apple's payments or not. It's convenient, people trust Apple, they already have system integration, so they'd likely get plenty of business. If people didn't like it, they'd pay someone else. By preventing anyone else from operating one on IOS devices, Apple has removed this option.

        "Epic's claim is just without merit."

        Did you have other reasons? Because both of your supporting ones are incorrect.

  8. msobkow Silver badge

    "Rule in our favor or we leave California. And blame YOU."

  9. steviebuk Silver badge

    Have they been living under a rock?

    "a judge from the Northern District Court of California said Apple wasn’t a monopoly"

    Really? Explain why they aren't?

    1. very angry man

      Re: Have they been living under a rock?

      Large brown paper bag filled with small pieces of printed paned,

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Have they been living under a rock?

      Six-letter word. Begins with G.

    3. hayzoos

      Re: Have they been living under a rock?

      If Apple was the only provider of smartphones, they would be a monopoly. If Apple was the only provider of laptop computers, they would be a monopoly. If Apple was the only provider of tablet computers, they would be a monopoly.

      Being the only provider of their brand of any of these categories of goods, is not being a monopoly. Now extend the concept further to ancillary services such as itunes or the app store, and they are still not a monopoly. That does not mean they are not being anti-competitive, they certainly are being anti-competitive. That does not get them off the hook in the eyes of the law. There is a range of anti-competitive behaviors which are not permitted by law. Hopefully, justice prevails and these actions are seen for what they are.

      One solution to the problem of Apple's anti-competitive behaviors is to do what I do, not buy anything Apple, at least since 1986.

    4. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Have they been living under a rock?

      Apple looked at the data collected by his iPhone and made him an offer he couldn't refuse....

    5. CrazyOldCatMan

      Re: Have they been living under a rock?

      Really? Explain why they aren't?

      Because you don't have to buy an Apple device - you can always lower your expectations and buy an Android device..

      (Speaking of which - if Apple is considered a monopoly then, using the same logic, Google surely does too - after all, it's replicated the Apple modus using devices locked to Play Store - for which it also charges 30%.)

  10. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

    "... irreparable harm..."

    Whilst I don't usually like impugning the professionalism of judges, based on the paucity of Apple's legal and technical arguments so far, I find it difficult to find an explanation for this other than unpurchased benefits accruing to the gentleman on the bench.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: "... irreparable harm..."

      Then you don't understand the case.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: "... irreparable harm..."

        Uh-huh...

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