A hot potato: The legal dispute between Epic Games and Apple has reached a resolution, prompting Cupertino to take swift action following the recent ruling from the US Supreme Court. Developers are now allowed to offer a purchase option on external stores, but they are still required to pay a substantial fee to Apple.
In 2023, a court decision in the legal battle between Epic Games and Apple managed to disappoint both parties. Apple wasn’t compelled to open iOS to third-party app stores, but it had to abandon its so-called “anti-steering policies” and inform users about external payment methods. Both Epic and Apple petitioned the US Supreme Court to reconsider the case, but the SCOTUS has now denied both requests.
The Epic v. Apple case took three years to conclude, yet Apple is still attempting to have the last word on the matter. The company has updated its App Store policies with new guidelines for apps that provide an external purchase link, reiterating that publishers and developers must still pay Cupertino to conduct business within the iOS ecosystem.
According to the guidelines, Apple will apply a 27 percent commission on sales derived from external purchase methods. If a payment is due, developers will receive an invoice based on their own transaction reporting. Developers interested in external purchase methods need to apply for an “entitlement” to enable them, and they still need to comply with iOS conventional payment methods in addition to the external ones.
For users attempting to use external payment methods, Apple has introduced a full-screen notice, which the company refers to as a “disclosure sheet.” The screen essentially serves as a warning, stating that Apple is not responsible for the privacy and security of purchases made on the web or outside the official iOS App Store.
According to the guidelines, all App Store developers benefit from Apple’s proprietary technology and tools protected by intellectual property laws, and they have access to Cupertino’s extensive (and often affluent) user base. The 27 percent commission on external purchases is seemingly required to reimburse Apple for its investments in developer tools, SDKs, APIs, updates, and the “platform itself.”
Epic’s founder and CEO, Tim Sweeney, stated that Apple’s latest move in the mobile app business is anticompetitive and criticized the “scare screen” shown to customers choosing external payment methods. Epic plans to contest Apple’s “bad-faith compliance plan” in the District Court.