- Apple announced Friday night that it would appeal a judge’s order allowing it to link apps to alternative digital payment systems on the Web.
- The move will protect Apple’s lucrative App Store model, which has come under criticism from technology rivals, international regulators and members of the US Congress.
- The appeal accompanies Apple’s original message that it was pleased with the judge’s decision in the case.
Apple wants to take another step in the legal battle against Epic Games.
On Friday night, Apple announced that it would seek a stay on a judge’s September order that said Apple would have to allow apps to direct customers to external websites. The decision will let app businesses bypass Apple’s requirement to only facilitate in-app payments, where Apple takes a cut of up to 30%. Apple is also appealing this decision.
Because Epic Games is also appealing the lost nine cases, the case could take years to resolve and Apple is forced to make any changes to iOS, the operating system for iPhones, as both companies Fight through the appeals process in court.
The judge is expected to rule on Apple’s stay request next month.
Apple’s move is a surprising change from its tone after the decision in September. While Apple always left open the possibility of an appeal, it portrayed the judge’s ruling as a resounding legal victory for its App Store business model, which has come under fire from technology rivals, international regulators and members of the US Congress. has gone.
“We are very pleased with the court’s decision and we consider it a major victory for Apple,” Apple attorney Kate Adams said after the ruling in September.
Friday night’s announcement prompted a torrent of comments from Apple critics. He explained that the move would protect the profits of Apple’s App Store by preventing apps from using alternative payment systems. A company announced last week that it is already working on a cheaper, web-based alternative to Apple’s in-app payments — a move made possible only by a decision that Apple is now appealing. Apple doesn’t disclose profit margins for the App Store, but it generated about $64 billion in gross sales in 2020.
Apple said it has just filed an appeal as it faces a legal deadline this month. If Apple doesn’t appeal now, it will lose the option forever, and it can always change its mind and withdraw the appeal. Apple also framed its appeal as a way to prevent a hasty business decision before the case is fully closed. The judge’s current order requires Apple to allow apps to link to the web in December.
If the judge blocks Apple on the order next month, the status quo will remain until Epic Games and Apple settle their beef. This could take years and help Apple resist more coercive changes to its App Store model.
In the meantime though, there are several other external legal threats to Apple’s App Store. For example, a bipartisan bill in the Senate would force Apple to accept alternative in-app payments. Also, Apple has already been forced to comply with a regulatory decision from Japan to allow certain apps to link to websites. (The Japanese order does not apply to games, where most people believe the Apple App Store makes the greatest amount of profit.)
Apple may have initially ruled Epic Games’ case as a win, but its appeal suggests it will defend its lucrative App Store model until the bitter end.