Epic isn’t the only one running to the Supreme Court over the ongoing App Store lawsuit. Apple filed a petition with the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking to reverse a prior injunction that would force the company to allow developers to use third-party payment options.
As reported by Engadget, the iPhone maker argued that the lower court’s injunction was “breathtakingly broad” and “unconstitutional.”
Like Epic’s Supreme Court push, Apple’s petition could have far-reaching consequences should the court take up the case. If the court rules in Apple’s favour, it could mean the injunction will no longer be in place, allowing Apple to continue forcing app developers to use its payment system.
Apple’s rules around payments and its App Store have long been contentious among developers, with the third-party payments part being particularly problematic. Apple takes as much as a 30 percent cut of all purchases made through its payment systems, which developers must use if they put an app on the App Store (except for when developers don’t have to, which is a whole other set of problems). That means whether you’re paying for a streaming subscription, or buying cosmetic items to deck out your in-game character — such as with Epic’s Fortnite — payments go through Apple’s systems, and then Apple takes its cut.
In fact, Apple’s rulings also prohibit app developers from sending users to other payment options or telling people about cheaper alternatives. For example, if a service offers a product on the App Store and on the web, it might have a cheaper price for the product on the web because it’s not subject to Apple’s fees. But developers can’t link to their web store or otherwise tell users about the alternate option. This is what got Fortnite booted off the App Store.
The injunction forcing Apple to allow the use of third-party payment systems was one of the only victories Epic won in its lawsuit against the iPhone maker. Neither company is happy about it — Epic feels the ruling doesn’t go far enough to address the problems of the App Store, while Apple clearly thinks the injunction goes too far (possibly because it stands to lose a lot of money if developers bypass its payment systems).
Ultimately, it will be interesting to see whether the Supreme Court decides to take up the issue and, if it does, what it will mean for the broader mobile app store industry.