Apple Inc. can tell mobile app developers that it still intends to collect a commission of up to 30% despite last week’s court ruling ordering the iPhone maker to let users make payments on the web and questioning whether its much-criticized fee is justified.
The judge’s 185-page decision following a May trial in a lawsuit by Epic Games Inc. left enough twist for Apple to keep its App Store revenue stream largely intactbut doing so poses logistical hurdles and risks political blowback.While U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said Apple can no longer ban developers from using “buttons, external links or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing methods” other than Apple’s payment system, she stopped short of directing the company to lower its commission.
The order didn’t say developers who steer consumers away from Apple’s system are entitled to keep all the revenue for themselves from in-app subscriptions and other digital items. Instead, the judge wrote, “Apple could still charge a commission on developers. It would simply be more difficult for Apple to collect that commission.”Apple has the legal right to do business with anyone they want. So Apple could change the terms of the App Store and say to developers, regardless of where they collect their revenue, they owe Apple 30%, and if developers refuse to pay it, Apple would be free to de-platform them.