The Epic Games vs Apple trial has wrapped (ultimately temporarily) with US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruling mostly in favor of Apple. Of the 10 complaints filed by Epic Games against Apple, the judge ruled in favor of Apple for 9 of them. The one point which fell in Epic Games' favor was an injunction forcing Apple to allow developers to include links to external payment systems. The most common implementation of this will be external links to signup or purchase systems on a website. Netflix previously included a link to its signup page in its app in lieu of allowing new users to signup through the app and was forced to remove it.
However, while this is a minor win for Epic Games, it is not the win they were hoping for. In fact, the company has to pay Apple legal fees and lost revenue for the three months in which the company had implemented its own payment system, in the amount of 30 percent of their iOS revenue. Because Epic Games reported $12,167,719 in iOS revenue, 30 percent would be $3,650,315. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said via Twitter,
Today's ruling isn't a win for developers or for consumers. Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers.
Fortnite will return to the iOS App Store when and where Epic can offer in-app payment in fair competition with Apple in-app payment, passing along the savings to consumers.
So, the fate of Fortnite on Apple's mobile devices is still questionable, partially because of Epic Games' decision, and partially because the company's developer account is still suspended. What is not questionable is the fact that this case is far from over. As this case was heard in a US District Court, there are a number of levels for appeal, all of which Epic Games plans to use. This is because of the 9 losses that they suffered, not just monetarily. Epic Games still wants to be able to distribute its games through an independent app platform on iOS, and they want to avoid the app Store and its policies entirely. Judge Rogers made it clear that it will likely be a difficult challenge, saying,
While the Court finds that Apple enjoys considerable market share of over 55% and extraordinarily high profit margins, these factors alone do not show antitrust conduct. Success is not illegal.
After the court issued its ruling, Apple released its own statement of support for the decision.
Today, the court has affirmed what we've known all along: the App Store is not in violation of antitrust law. As the court recognized, "success is not illegal." Apple faces rigorous competition in every segment in which we do business, and we believe customers and developers choose us because our products and services are the best in the world. We remain committed to ensuring the App Store is a safe and trusted marketplace that supports a thriving developer community and more than 2.1 million U.S. jobs, and where the rules apply equally to everyone.
This is clearly just the beginning, but it is encouraging for Apple's defense. While they do control a large portion of the mobile space in the US, this court has created a precedent establishing a platform's ability to lock itself to any degree, regardless of its size.