It's been just under a month since a judge denied Apple's motion to indefinitely delay the court-mandated changes to its App Store following their one loss against Epic Games. And, with only a few days until the court order goes into effect, Apple is looking for a way to prevent the overall effects of the order. The company might just have found a way to comply with the order while not actually giving it any benefit, other than to Apple itself.
The court order in question requires that Apple allow developers to use external payment systems. The current policy is that apps can and will be declined from the App Store if they implement any payment system other than the App Store's internal system. Rather than asking the judge for an extension while they worked to implement the new feature, the company attempted to convince the judge to pause the implementation until after all appeals had been exhausted. If you followed the Google vs Oracle case, you know that it could upwards of a decade before that happens.
The judge told Apple to pound sand and gave them until next week to implement the changes. Apple has been looking for a way out, and it may just have found one. A report suggests that Apple will implement a forced commission on all third-party payments made from apps installed through the App Store. That essentially means that all apps installed on iPhone and iPad devices will fall under this new policy. This follows a recent move by Google, which implemented a similar policy, requiring between 11% and 26% of third-party payment processes.
Of course, this move completely undermines the spirit of the court's ruling in the first place. The court found that Apple had abused its market position in requiring apps to use the App Store's payment system, and that its 30% cut was an undue burden on developers and publishers. The goal of the ruling was to allow developers to use their own external payment processors, which usually charge far less than 30%, to help save them money. By charging developers and publishers for using that external system, the rule would not end up benefiting the developers it was intended to help.
Of course, the court could come back and say that the company had not properly complied with the ruling. Because the company knows why the ruling was made, it could be found to be in contempt of court for forcing developers to pay for no service provided. This is especially true because of the fact that it could also be seen as an additional abuse of market position and power.
It's a thin line they're walking here. A move like this could give Epic Games even more ammunition in appeals to show that Apple not only doesn't respect the developers and publishers that make its App Store work, but they also don't respect the court itself. A good attorney could turn this from a 9-1 loss for Epic into a 10-0 win for the company and for developers.