The App Store has become a huge part of Apple’s success, both with the innovation developers have within apps, the things they can do and the revenue that brings to Apple.
But, Apple is under fire, with developers unhappy with many of the terms they have to agree to just to exist in the App Store Ecosystem.
We’ve all hear about Fortnite creators EPIC taking Apple to court in any jurisdiction possible over their hatred of Apple’s 30% clipping of the ticket on purchases in app.
But EPIC isn’t the only one. A Small class action of developers in the United States have taken Apple to court, and today, Apple has announced a raft of changes to App Store policies that it thinks will be looked upon favourably by the Judge in the case resulting in the settlement of the case.
Apple Fellow Phil Schiller says “From the beginning, the App Store has been an economic miracle; it is the safest and most trusted place for users to get apps, and an incredible business opportunity for developers to innovate, thrive and grow,”
“We would like to thank the developers who worked with us to reach these agreements in support of the goals of the App Store and to the benefit of all of our users.”
The same legal firm (Gibson Dunn) represent the developers in this case, as they do EPIC in the larger battle.
Interestingly, given the similarity of circumstances, this could see a similar discussion about bringing to an end the EPIC proceedings, though on my reading, the changes don’t go far enough to where EPIC would like to be.
The changes, or commitments, look to give some certainty to developers. With a three year commitment to maintaining the Apple App Store Small Business Program. Likewise, the current App Store Search system would be maintained for at least that long.
While these and several other changes are important, the big “change” surround charging and price points – issues key to the other case with EPIC.
Apple has said that “To give developers even more flexibility to reach their customers, Apple is also clarifying that developers can use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app.”
What this allows for is exactly what exists today, with Epic for example selling “VBucks” on other platforms which are usable in the iOS game. Clarifying this for smaller developers means if they can work out ways to link the game users to externally hosted game accounts, they can use Email and other communication methods to entice off-platform purchases, which are not subject to Apple’s commission.
Importantly though, this change allows the developer to essentially PROMOTE or mention those other methods of payment but – not inside the app, only using other communications tools like SMS or Email.
This is big.
Additionally, Apple has agreed to expand from less than 100 to over 500 the number of price points available to developers for subscriptions and in-app purchases, developers choose from that list when setting their prices.
There’s no guarantee these changes will be accepted by the Judge, though Apple’s wording around productive discussions does indicate agreement across the courtroom.
From the lawyers point of view, they see the big win as the creation of a $100 million Small Developer Assistance Fund