Apple must allow for app payments outside its App Store, judge rules in Epic Games verdict
- In a ruling, the judge said the court couldn't conclude Apple holds a monopoly under antitrust law.
- The judge said in her ruling the court couldn't conclude Apple holds a monopoly under antitrust law.
- Apple said it would allow apps to include external links to pay for services outside the App Store.
A ruling in the battle royale between Apple and the maker of Fortnite will likely spark substantial changes to the App Store business model.
A federal court has said Apple has to let developers use payment options that take consumers out of the tech giant's App Store ecosystem, circumventing Apple's 30% commission on most app transactions.
In the ruling, filed in the U.S. District Court in Northern California, the court said Apple will not be allowed to prevent "developers from including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to In-App Purchasing."
The decision from Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers notes the injunction will take effect in 90 days.
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In the ruling, Rogers said while the court couldn't conclude Apple holds a monopoly under antitrust law, it did "engage in anticompetitive conduct."
"Apple’s anti-steering provisions hide critical information from consumers and illegally stifle consumer choice," wrote Rogers in her ruling.
Earlier this month, Apple announced it would allow apps like Spotify and Netflix to include external links to pay for services outside of Apple's ecosystem.
In a statement, Spotify said it was pleased with Rogers' decision.
“There is strong need and momentum for legislation to address these and many other unfair practices, which are designed to hurt competition and consumers," said Horacio Gutierrez, head of global affairs and chief legal officer for Spotify, in a statement. "This task has never been more urgent."
Both Apple and Google have been scrutinized by developers over the commissions it charges on in-app purchases. Last year, Epic sued Apple claiming the tech giant has "unreasonable restraints" over how it handles in-app payments.
The lawsuit was filed after Apple yanked popular action game Fortnite from its App Store after Epic added an option for players to directly pay them for in-app purchases without going through Apple's ecosystem.
In a statement emailed to USA TODAY, Apple said it remains committed to "ensuring the App Store is a safe and trusted marketplace that supports a thriving developer community."
Epic Games CEO and founder Tim Sweeney said on Twitter that the company is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores.
"Fortnite will return to the iOS App Store when and where Epic can offer in-app payment in fair competition with Apple in-app payment, passing along the savings to consumers," wrote Sweeney.
Developers now being able to communicate directly with consumers is “great,” said Adam Blacker, vice president of insights at Apptopia, which provides analytics and data on app use and growth.
But Blacker questions whether developers will enjoy similar success collecting revenue from outside the Apple garden.
“It would be less of a seamless experience," said Blacker. "That being said, they may be able to entice with lower prices due to not having to pay a store fee."
Terry Collins contributed to this report. Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.