If you have been following tech news over the last few weeks, there is no way you could have missed the ultimate showdown between Epic and Apple. This lawsuit was years in the making and this month things finally came to a head with the publication of the Court’s judgment.
What Does the Epic Lawsuit Mean For the App Store’s Future?
The conflict between Epic and Apple has been raging for a few years because Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney is an outspoken critic of the way that Apple generates profit from arguably onerous app store fees.
Epic is best known for its world-famous battle royale game Fortnite, which has changed the video game industry and made it much more accessible for players around the world to join in on the fun.
Epic versus Apple
After complaining about the fees which Apple was tacking on to all App Store purchases, in August, Epic added a new direct payment mechanism to Fortnite. This action violated Apple’s rules — as you might expect, they are very particular about rules relating to financing and fees.
Apple reacted by swiftly removing Fortnite from its list of apps. Removing one of the world’s most popular and beloved games from the App Store created a furor in the gaming and tech world and certainly did not go unnoticed.
Epic responded to the removal of Fortnite by launching a counterattack of their own in the form of an antitrust lawsuit which aimed to establish the fact that the App Store is a monopoly and, as such, operates under unfair business practices.
Other developers are taking note of the developments in this ongoing battle because, like Epic, many other game developers are critical of the extremely high fees which Apple collects from every App Store purchase.
The result of the lawsuit may have far-reaching impacts, as the App Store is currently the number one marketplace for all apps. According to Tristan Moore, author at Betspin.com, that includes everything from popular social media apps to news platforms to the top online casinos currently available online.
The court’s ruling
On September 10th, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers handed down a ruling which disappointed both Apple and Epic. The most important element of the ruling was that Judge Rogers held that Apple was not a monopoly and that, as such, Epic could not argue that Apple was engaging in monopolistic business practices.
Judge Rodgers conceded that Apple enjoys the benefits of dominating the competitive market, but she noted that there was, importantly, no evidence of Apple engaging in anti-trust practices such as increasing the industry’s barriers for entry or actively working to decrease innovation in the sector.
However, it was not purely a win for Apple in the courtroom. Judge Rogers also held that developers will no longer be forced to follow Apple’s anti-steering policies.
This means that Apple cannot censure developers which encourage users to purchase the app through their own website through the use of buttons, external links or calls to action.
These methods help developers to redirect would-be users away from the App Store and its high fees. Instead, encouraging users to buy the app on the app’s website, where they can avoid fees.
While Apple claimed that the lawsuit was a victory, it has also taken a major hit in the lawsuit as many developers are likely to be working overtime to redirect traffic away from the App Store and to other landing pages in order to avoid additional fees.
Moreover, Sweeney has vowed to fight the judgment and has in fact already filed an appeal against Judge Roger’s judgment.
What this means for the App Store’s future
Looking ahead, it is difficult to predict exactly where this could go. If Sweeney is successful in his appeal and Apple is categorized as a monopoly, the United States government and anti-trust agencies would need to get involved and reassess the power and influence which Apple holds over the tech industry.
On the other hand, the decision has certainly had an impact on Apple and left it slightly shaken. Developers are now feeling emboldened to push against this titan of the tech world and are starting to implement new ways to dodge the exorbitant fees which Apple adds to all app purchases.
In the short-term, redirecting users to a landing page may not seem like a very significant change or development. However, it is a sign that the industry could be moving towards a healthier, more competitive place in which smaller companies have more say and more of a voice in the industry.