That injunction is probably the most meaningful piece of the overall outcome. In it, Judge Gonzales Rodgers simply drew a line through the final sentence in Apple’s App Store Review Guideline, 3.1.1, which deals with in-app payments (IAP).
More specifically, the order says:
1. Apple Inc. and its officers, agents, servants, employees, and any person in active concert or participation with them (“Apple”), are hereby permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from (i) including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to In-App Purchasing and (ii) communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.
There has been quite a conversation on Twitter about what constitutes a button. While I think there’s some awkward construction in the sentence due to the fact that the Judge simply used Apple’s language and said “you can’t say this anymore,” I think it’s actually pretty clear.
In-App vs Outside Transactions
Nothing here relates to the actual mechanism of making an in-app purchase. It simply precludes Apple from stopping developers telling users that other options (outside the app) exists, and providing a link to those options. If they want the seamless conversion of having customers buy things from within their apps, they’ll have to keep using Apple’s system.
It doesn’t mean that the Kindle app can add a button below every book that takes a user to an outside webview to order the book. It means that the Kindle app can add a link or a button on the home screen that says “visit the Kindle store to purchase and download your favorite books.”
It actually isn’t even that complicated, and common sense (as well as other parts of the ruling) make it clear that the Judge isn’t interested in a wholesale change to Apple’s IAP. Even though she makes clear that 30% isn’t some sacred number in terms of what Apple should be allowed to collect, she also goes out of her way to state that Apple is entitled to a commission and that IAP is appropriate as a way to ensure it is able to collect that commission.
It’s also helpful, I think, to clarify in your mind that the judge is both protecting Apple’s right to control purchases that happen within an app, while also making it far easier for developers to provide a way for their customers to make those purchases outside of the app. Previously, Apple’s position has been that it controls in-app purchases AND that developers couldn’t talk about, or link to any alternative.
That’s the key part that has changed.
Yes, I think that developers will absolutely push this to its logical limit, requiring the court to make decisions about what follows the injunction. And, it will be the court that decides. It’s no longer up to Apple to interpret its own rules. In fact, for all intents and purposes, this isn’t even one of Apple’s rules anymore. The judge lifted that sentence from Apple’s guidelines entirely.
Apple and Epic’s Appeals
Some have suggested that Apple will appeal and ask for a stay of the injunction. I think that’s a terrible idea. Epic has already appealed
, which makes sense considering it lost on every other count, and the anti-steering provision is easily the least important to its future business plans.
Epic doesn’t care about adding a link to a V-Bucks store where it doesn’t have to pay Apple’s commission. It doesn’t even care about the fact this solves most of the problems a lot of developers have with Apple’s store. Instead, it wants to be the store so it can charge other developers a commission of its own.
Epic’s CEO said as much in a series of Tweets on Friday: