Six Things You Should Know About the Epic v. Apple Ruling
Epic got some of what it was hoping for — but not all of it
The following is a selection from Big Technology, a newsletter by Alex Kantrowitz. To get it in your inbox each week, you can sign up here.
When Epic Games sued Apple in August 2020 over iPhone maker’s 30% cut of in-app payments, it did so with a splashy media blitz that included a readymade parody of Apple’s famous 1984 ad.
The rollout seemed to indicate that Epic’s lawsuit was more of a public relations play than a serious legal challenge. And statements supporting Epic’s cause from companies like Spotify and Facebook felt like further evidence that Epic believed public pressure — not the Sherman Antitrust Act — would get Apple to act.
Then, today, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers handed down a ruling, one that actually gave Epic some of what it was hoping for — but not all. As we all digest the ruling, here are six things you need to know about it, brought to you in this special edition of Big Technology:
- A logical ruling When you spend money inside iPhone apps, Apple takes up to 30% of that cash simply for allowing apps the privilege to work on its phones. Not only that, Apple doesn’t let apps say that you can buy the same stuff for less money elsewhere (read: on a website). The court’s ruling stopped the latter practice, saying such policies “hide critical information from consumers and illegally stifle consumer choice.” Within 90 days, Apple must allow developers to “steer” their users to outside payment options.
- Expect appeal(s) Both companies could have easily declared victory here. In the ruling, Apple got plenty of concessions, including an order for Epic to pay it millions of dollars for skirting its rules. That said, Apple isn’t happy about losing its lock on in-app payments. Epic, for its part, should be thrilled it got a ruling against Apple’s “anti-steering” policies. But Epic is angry that it lost everything else. Epic said it would appeal the ruling. “We will fight on,” said Epic CEO Tim Sweeney. Asked whether it would appeal, Apple did not respond.
- A win for subscription-based app developers Netflix, Spotify, Match Group, and other companies that offer…