Apple must allow other forms of in-app purchases, rules judge in Epic v. Apple

There will surely be an appeal, but woo. Now just to get sideloading…

They can’t stop linking out to places for other purchases - not the same as allowing different purchase options in app.
Still a lot more hassle than a traditional IAP

buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms

I think that these could include a button to a Stripe or Shopify or Gumdrop payment page. It’s pretty easy to imagine on an elegant design for that kind of process. That shouldn’t be too awkward or cumbersome!

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Which will have launch via either an in app browser or default device browser.

Still don’t think it will be as convenient as purchasing in the app.

Anyway as expected no one is happy and certainly epic is appealing.

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This could be the end of the in-app purchase model, which Apple promoted in the first place! Apple didn’t want the app store flooded with two versions of each app, one a free trial and the other paid, so in-app purchases allowed the trial version to be free and the real version purchased as an in-app purchase.

If Apple can’t get their fee for in-app purchases then the store becomes absolutely free for developers to present and distribute their apps and then collect the only price charged bypassing Apple entirely. This is obviously not a sustainable business model for Apple.

The only real solution will be for Apple to allow side loading and other App Stores, maintaining the current app store and collecting fees for in-app purchases an everything bought from its store.

Historically, I believe, the purpose of the walled garden was to appease the cellular providers that didn’t want bad apps interfering with their service, potentially giving them a bad reputation.

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I don’t think it’s as simple as Apple getting or not getting the fee across the board. I would imagine that Apple’s payment system will still be a preferred way for many users as a first-choice way to pay for services, so there will still be significant revenue - but that the market pressure could whittle the 30% fee down to a smaller number.

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Preferred for users and for small developers!

The ruling doesn’t seem to prevent Apple from collecting commissions, even if the payments are made via third parties. It would be more difficult for them to calculate and collect for sure. So it probably won’t make much difference at this stage.

Heh, The Verge picked up on the same nuance we were debating:

It’ll certainly be interesting to see what interpretations are made and whether the court approves them.
Also interested to see whether they roll it out to all markets or just the single link already announced.

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Didn’t apple changed their policies to allow reference to external means of payment just days before the ruling?

Here is what I’m worried about most that people don’t seem to be talking about. What is to stop developers from removing IAP where they exist today and instead pointing users to their website to save 30%.

Case in point, I find that Uber and Instacart are always trying to avoid Apple Pay in the UI. Will some developers get rid of it altogether? Will I no longer be able to see all my subscriptions in one place with an easy button to cancel?

@memex Far as I understood it, that earlier change was very minor, allowing developers to ask users to submit their email address, then contacting that email address with alternative methods of payment.

@ccoppin Re: good UX for purchase and subscription management… Apple will still have control over the experience, I think. For instance, they could require that developers use a particular payment API so that subscription management is still centralized.

As for devs removing IAPs to save 30%—it’ll depend on how this is done, but I wouldn’t mind apps getting 10-30% cheaper in some cases for a slightly less convenient payment process. (The promise that Apple’s opponents have always offered is that these savings will be passed on to the consumer.)

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I totally hear you and I think many would agree with you. But I would mind, and I’m doubtful how much savings will be passed on, especially if they rid the app of Apple Pay.

I think some developers will, but I don’t think it’s a smart idea for them. Removing payment options that you already have the code for - for free, essentially, code-wise - usually isn’t very smart.

Companies like Epic - where they can push that sort of decision and users will almost certainly comply - are an exception, with the caveat below.

I honestly don’t think this will happen in the way a lot of people seem to think.

First, the amount isn’t 30%. For that 30%, Apple pays the credit card processing fees. So knock off 3% or so, and we’re at 27%. Apple also provides all of the payment support, the refund processing, all the license key stuff, etc. That’s worth some extra amount, as the dev would otherwise have to bear those costs - probably in the 5-10% range.

So realistically we’re talking about 20% savings or so, maximum. Possibly less.

Implementing a payment gateway / license server is the sort of thing which is huge on fixed costs and very low on incremental costs, so the fewer the customers to spread that around to the lower the likelihood that money will even be saved - especially in the short term.

Beyond that, people psychologically don’t “give credit” for discounts or price consistency nearly as much as they place blame for price increases. This leads to many brick-and-mortar stores doing things like trying to keep prices constant during market fluctuations, even when their margins thin considerably, in the hopes that things will sort themselves out and their margins will be restored in the near future. And when they do raise prices, there are always loud complaints - no matter how much of a proverbial haircut they’d been taking previously to keep prices down. The same applies in reverse, for the same reason.

I would expect savvy devs to act similarly. If they suddenly got 20% “free and clear” extra dropped in their lap for all the customers using their own payment gateway, I’d expect them to do something like a dollar-cost-averaging calculation with their App Store payments vs. their own payment gateway and use that margin to keep prices level in the future rather than suddenly providing a huge discount.

And since many of small devs probably fall under Apple’s $1m revenue cap, meaning they’re only paying 15% anyway, I could absolutely see a scenario where many smaller apps don’t even bother to try implementing their own payment gateways and just leave the App Store as the only way to pay.

The exception would logically be huge devs like Epic, with enough volume where the savings are clear and obvious. I would expect them to re-calculate their pricing tiers to reflect a very modest discount (10-15%) or, even more sneakily perhaps, to not give any discount at all but reward the user with some form of in-game currency or bonus for using their internal payment methods.


Not sure if anyone has a Stratechary subscription but Ben has some interesting points:

This is admittedly unclear from the one page injunction, so I can see why some observers are arguing that the injunction allows alternative in-app purchase flows; however, this argument simply doesn’t make sense in the context of the entire ruling, which makes clear that alternative platforms are websites and other operating systems

Note, though, that IAP is not going anywhere: external links can sit next to IAP, but they can’t replace it, and they can never be as well-integrated as Apple’s offering is.

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