Unveiled late on Friday, Epic Games and Apple parties have already made their thoughts on the App Store lawsuit ruling known, which helps us interpret who wins and who loses from it.
Epic has announced that it will appeal the decision. In contrast, Apple is satisfied with the outcome. Actions and statements that leave no doubt as to what has happened.
Despite what the first reports wanted to paint as a definitive victory for Epic against the App Store, the CEO himself made the following statement:
Today: Lost a court case, climbed a mountain, read hundreds of pages of legal papers, wrote some code. Just as determined as ever to fight on until there is genuine developer and consumer freedom in software, and fair competition in each mobile platform software component. pic.twitter.com/5PWD6va6mz
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) September 11, 2021
Sweeney leaves no room for doubt: Epic lost the case. As part of the message, the company will remain committed to achieving what they call “freedom in software for the developer and the user”, pursuing competition in the mobile sector that they consider “fair”. Their strategy continues to paint the demands on Apple on behalf of a community of developers and users who are not unanimous in their support, as there is a gulf of interests between big and small.
Sweeney’s Friday post was followed by the confirmation of the appeal of the ruling yesterday.
Apple ecstatic about the ruling
“We are very pleased with the ruling and consider it a major victory for Apple. This decision validates that Apple’s success is not illegal,” the judge said. The court found that “both Apple and developers like Epic Games have symbiotically benefited from the increased innovation and growth of the iOS ecosystem”.
This is the first paragraph of the statement sent to the media, made by Apple senior vice president and Chief Legal Counsel Kate Adams. In the statements, it is also noted that:
- The judge has declared that Apple is not a monopoly, under either federal or state law.
- Developers have benefited from the development of the iOS ecosystem, which includes software and devices.
- The App Store contains a framework that incorporates user review, protection, privacy and security, specifying that this framework is lawful.
- Epic’s expulsion from the App Store was therefore legal.
Apple interprets the ruling as a “resounding victory that underscores the merit of our business as a competitive and business driver”. A stark contrast to the reflexive attitude of Epic’s CEO and his appeal.
Apple’s goal was to preserve the essence of the App Store and its control over the distribution of apps on the iPad and iPhone. This translates into three fronts: preventing the existence of so-called sideloading, maintaining the ban on alternative app stores, and preserving the IAP system as the sole means of transaction. The ruling has secured all of them, validating this business model.
Many media have mistakenly claimed that the IAP system had “fallen” under the ruling.
Hence Apple’s positive reaction to the ruling. In the absence of an in-depth analysis of the 185 pages that make up the ruling, the Cupertino company only has to give in on the anti-steering measures. This is the second alternative to the outcome of the trial, which has been fully complied with.
Generally speaking, Apple will not be able to prohibit developers from linking to an external site within their apps to offer other ways to sign up and/or transact. These external operations were not prohibited by the App Store, what was prevented was actively communicating this to the customer, either through the app or by external methods such as email.
In early September, Apple reached an agreement with authorities in Japan to allow such communications for reading apps. A measure that will be extended to developers around the world and which, with this ruling, will be open to any app that wishes to do so. It is, therefore, a point on which Apple was already prepared to give in and it fits in with a controlled loss. It is not surprising that Cupertino is jubilant.