After the very publicized battle between Epic Games and Apple, the latter is still going back to court to take total control of its App Store despite its initial victory over Epic.
Apple in fact called the initial ruling a “resounding victory” with Judge Gonzalez Roger ruling in favor of Apple in nine of the ten claims which Epic brought against it.
There is however one important part that Apple lost which was when the Judge found that Apple violated California’s anti-steering rules and therefore oblige Apple to allow developers to link to outside payment systems.
That was a big blow to Apple’s ego especially for developers who make use of the App Store to distribute their digital products such as apps and games.
It was obligatory that developers would make use of Apple’s in-app payment system which will then allow Apple to take a cut of the money – something which Epic was totally against leading to the initial legal tussle.
That policy would have taken over in December, but it may be pushed out beyond that — and it seems that’s the point.
Anyway, Apple is therefore asking for a stay in order to prevent the company from having to implement the new anti-steering rules saying that it will allow Apple to better protect consumers and safeguard its platform while the company works “through the complex and rapidly evolving legal, technological, and economic issues.”
“For instance, Apple claims that the new anti-steering rule is unnecessary because the company had already agreed to delete the offending section of its App Store Guidelines in the Cameron v. Apple settlement, but that’s news to us: at the time, Apple only agreed to “clarify” that app developers were allowed to communicate with consenting customers, not link to outside payment systems. That clarification was widely seen by developers as a red herring. At the time, Apple didn’t say anything about deleting a section of its App Store Guidelines entirely” – reported TheVerge.
It’s quite obvious that Apple wants to continue its control of the App Store as well as its payment processing as the law would allow many app developers to seek alternative payment methods instead of Apple’s in-app payment method.
Links and buttons to alternate payment mechanisms are fraught with risk. Users who click on a payment link embedded in an app—particularly one distributed through the curated App Store—will expect to be led to a webpage where they can securely provide their payment information, email address, or other personal information.
Apple goes on to argue that if it were forced to allow app developers to link to external payment systems, it wouldn’t be able to protect users from fraud:
While Apple could examine the links in the version of the app submitted for review, there is nothing stopping a developer from changing the landing point for that link or altering the content of the destination webpage. Additionally, Apple currently has no ability to determine whether a user who clicks on an external link actually received the products or features she paid for. Apple already receives hundreds of thousands of reports each day from users, and allowing links to external payment options would only increase this burden. In essence, the introduction of external payment links, particularly without sufficient time to test and evaluate the security implications, will lead to the very same security concerns that Apple combats with the use of IAP more generally, which the Court agreed were legitimate, procompetitive reasons for the design of the App Store.
Even though Apple continues to claim that it’s trying to protect its users, many doubt if that’s true especially as the company only added a feature that let users report obvious App Store scams this past week.
Apple doesn’t want to leave so much on the table saying that “precipitous implementation of this aspect of the injunction would upset the careful balance between developers and customers provided by the App Store, and would irreparably harm both Apple and consumers.”
Apple also cites a previous case, Ohio v. AmEx, as evidence that transaction platforms like the App Store can promote competition despite steering restrictions even though AmEX doesn’t double as a software marketplace like the App Store.
Anyway, this is an appeal and there is no news whether it’ll be approved by the court.
Epic on the other hand announced it intended to appeal the case the same day Judge Roger issued the order and permanent injunction against Apple.