San Francisco Apple has suffered a setback in the process with the game developer Epic Games over its lucrative app store. The US judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers ruled on Friday that Apple must not prevent developers from adding links to their apps that allow customers to pay outside the app store. Apple charges game developers commissions of up to 30 percent here. The Apple share turned after the judgment in the red and lost more than three percent.
The “Fortnite” developer Epic Games had stated that Apple had created a closed system with its app store to control one billion iPhone users and developers. Apple, on the other hand, held that the rules of the app store had created a huge market in which users felt safe enough to buy apps from unknown developers.
At the same time, judge Gonzalez-Rogers also dismissed nine out of ten charges against Epic Games: For example, they did not rate Apple as a monopoly, as the game developer had called for. Since the co-op survival shooter Fortnite can also be played on game consoles, PCs or Android devices, Apple’s app store is not the relevant market for assessing a monopoly position.
In addition, Epic had no right to introduce its own payment method with a secret update in its iOS app. Epic will have to pay Apple $ 3.65 million in damages after the ruling.
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Accordingly, Apple sees the verdict as a victory: “Today the court confirmed what we always knew: the app store is not a violation of antitrust law. As the court found, ‘success is not illegal’. Apple is exposed to tough competition in every segment in which we are active, ”said a statement from the group. “The court has found that Apple is not a monopoly, neither under federal nor under state law,” said Apple’s lawyer Kate Adams in a conference call with reporters.
Epic boss Tim Sweeney, on the other hand, was dissatisfied with the decision: “Today’s verdict is not a victory for developers or consumers,” he wrote on Twitter.
Epic Games sues Google – Apple is facing further proceedings
The dispute between the companies escalated when Epic integrated the alternative payment variant into a “Fortnite” game version in order to bypass the fee levy on Apple and Google. As a result, Apple removed the game from its app store. Epic responded with several lawsuits. The judgment is first instance. The companies can appeal the judgment. In addition, it will only come into force in 90 days. Until then, both parties can still appeal against it, such as injunctions.
Epic also wants to sue Google in the matter. The proceedings are to be opened this year. Unlike Apple, Google allows the installation of alternative app stores on its Android devices. In practice, however, these hardly play a role. The share of Google parent Alphabet also fell by one percent after the verdict was announced.
In the past few days, Apple has already had to make several concessions to developers: In an out-of-court settlement in another process with app developers, which was also led by Gonzalez-Rogers, Apple had made it clear that US app developers had a single link in their apps, which leads to an alternative payment method.
In an agreement with the Japanese competition authority, Apple had promised to allow developers of so-called “reader apps” such as Netflix or Spotify worldwide to bypass the app store payment system via a link. Numerous competition proceedings against Apple’s app store practices are still pending worldwide, for example in India or the EU. A bill is also being negotiated in the US House of Representatives to impose stricter rules on the operators of app stores.
More: Apple is getting more and more absurd with its app store fee