Small light at the end of the tunnel of the Epic Games lawsuit against Apple and its App Store. During the second week of sessions, the judge in charge of the case questioned experts and witnesses from both sides. And glimpsed a possible solution to the disorder that the creators of Fortnite pushed to the App Store.
The rule: you cannot inform the user about alternative payment methods
Generally, the rules of the App Store do not allow the developer to inform the user of alternative payment methods for digital goods and services. You cannot tell the user that They can also purchase or register for the service through the web. There is no connection with this intention either.
This rule (App Store 3.1.3) is what prevents companies like Netflix from telling you when downloading the app and sign up for the first time you need a subscription. And this subscription is obtained from its website. The user should figure this out for himself, although it is not too big a barrier.
Netflix discontinued the IAP payment system on the App Store at the end of 2018. Spotify did it a few years earlier. Like them, there are other applications that have chosen to quit IAP and wait your subscribers register via the web. Which in itself is not a monopolistic attitude, but which harms the user experience.
During Epic’s lawsuit against Apple this week, a possible solution was seen. And it is precisely this rule.
The commitment: communicating alternative payment methods to users
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the District of Northern California targeted a possible solution to the current lawsuit between Epic and Apple. This is to allow the communication (and not the execution) of alternative payment methods to the user. According to Bloomberg reports, the judge was interested in this possible solution to settle the conflict.
In the testimony of Richard Schmalensee, the professor and economist at MIT testifying on behalf of Apple, led Gonzalez Rogers to consider where the problem is that consumers have more options. Schmalensee replied:
If the seller of the app can say that if you press this button, you can buy it for less, it means that the app store cannot charge their commission.
The judge raises the communication of other payment options via the web within the application, currently prohibited by the rules of the App Store
This would mean “selling for less” than the App Store itself, which would affect its revenue. Policies anti-direction (someth ing like not guiding the user to other cheaper options) such as the App Store. This type of policy was endorsed in a 2018 case applied to retail, according to the expert. Although the magistrate does not agree with the comparison.
It was at this point that the judge asked Epic economic expert David Evans whether the removal of these rules would solve the problem. To which he replied that it would not eliminate Apple’s market power here, but would certainly decrease it. Say right away that this would not be a solution.
Connect with Apple as a Potential Model
This is certainly one of the most interesting aspects when it comes to possible changes in the App Store. The ability to communicate and connect to the web for buy digital goods and services for an app, that would demolish part of Epic Games’ argument. This would benefit developers and improve the user experience, but at the expense of revenue on Apple accounts.
If a requirement were added by Apple, perhaps the outcome would be satisfactory for all parties involved. We can watch Connect with Apple, where developers should integrate a company-designed user and password system, keeping privacy and security in mind. Apps that offer connections Third parties, such as Facebook or Google, are required to offer Apple. And put it in the first option of all.
Such a solution would mean a Pyrrhic victory for Epic Games and a major concession from Apple.
Something similar could be done in this situation. When purchasing or subscribing for the first time, the user we first offer you the App Store and below the web option with link. In this way, the App Store appears as a more comfortable option, since the user already has the data in his Apple ID, at the same time that he can make his purchase via the Web, less comfortable but perhaps less expensive. .
If the two parties came to an agreement, it would be a reserve for the great ambitions of Epic Games and a small concession from Apple. We will have to wait if Justice Rogers’ suggestion comes to fruition.