In a swift move adhering to a U.S. Supreme Court's decision, Apple has just updated its App Store policies to accept outside payment options.
Starting today, U.S. developers can offer links to external payment options inside their apps using Apple's StoreKit External Purchase Link Entitlement.
"Developers may apply for an entitlement to provide a link in their app to a website the developer owns or maintains responsibility for to purchase such items," Apple’s new policy states.
As of today, developers can begin exercising their court-established right to tell US customers about better prices on the web. These awful Apple-mandated confusion screens are over and done forever. pic.twitter.com/YnFWt85MRF— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) January 16, 2024
However, there's a catch: Apple still gets 12% for its small business program members or 27% for non-members.
"To help ensure collection of Apple’s commission, developers are required to provide a periodic accounting of qualifying out-of-app purchases, and Apple has a right to audit developers' accounting to ensure compliance with their commission obligations and to charge interest and offset payments."
Developers must also keep Apple's in-app purchase system on offer, and they "may not discourage end-users from making in-app purchases."
Apple Loses Lawsuit Filed by Epic Games
This policy shift comes after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the tech giant’s appeal to block a lower court ruling that requires it to allow developers to offer outside payment options on the App Store.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Fortnite creator Epic Games which challenged Apple's requirement that all in-app purchases on its platform must be made through its own payment system, subject to a 15% or 30% commission fee.
A lower court judge ruled in favor of Epic last year, finding that Apple's practice violated California's Unfair Competition Law.
Apple, however, appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that it had the right to control its own platform and that forcing it to allow outside payment options would harm security and user experience.
The Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case lets the lower court ruling stand, meaning Apple will be forced to comply with the order, as it has now already done.
Epic Games Reacts to Apple’s Policy Changes
This move has major implications for the App Store market, which is estimated to be worth billions of dollars.
It could lead to lower consumer prices and open the door for new and innovative payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies.
A quick summary of glaring problems we've found so far:— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) January 16, 2024
1) Apple has introduced an anticompetitive new 27% tax on web purchases. Apple has never done this before, and it kills price competition. Developers can't offer digital items more cheaply on the web after paying a… pic.twitter.com/YkHuapG7xa
However, Epic Games Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney isn't happy with Apple’s new outside payment policies, calling the 27% commission fee "anticompetitive" and the entire process a "disadvantage" to developers using external payment links.
Epic Games plans to contest Apple's plan in District Court, Sweeney concluded.