Apple doesn’t need to give app developers the ability to add links to external payment options—or not yet, at least.
Apple today was granted a delay for when it needs to be compliant with the App Store changes, one day before the original Dec. 9 deadline and just weeks after judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers denied Apple’s initial request to forestall the requirement.
The order allowing developers to use external payment systems stemmed from a bitter feud between Apple and gaming giant Epic Games. In August 2020, Apple removed Fortnite, one of the world’s most popular games, from the App Store after Epic Games added a direct payment option that circumvented the App Store’s in-app payment system and its 30% commission to Apple.
Gonzalez Rogers ruled against Epic, finding the company to be in breach of its developer agreement and concluding that Apple wasn’t creating an unfair monopoly in the app space. Apple didn’t walk out unscathed, though—the company was found to be in violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law. As a result, a permanent injunction was issued, forcing the tech giant to remove any barriers preventing developers from using “buttons or external links” to point users toward alternative payment methods outside of the App Store.
With the appeal approved by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Apple could wait to make changes to its payment system until appeals in the case are finished, a process that could take more than a year. In that time, Apple will surely do whatever possible to drop the order altogether. The stay, it’s worth noting, does not extend to the second part of the injunction, which requires Apple to allow “communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.”
“Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions on the merits of the district court’s determination that Epic Games, Inc. failed to show Apple’s conduct violated any antitrust laws but did show that the same conduct violated California’s Unfair Competition Law,” the decision reads, according to 9to5Mac.
In a statement to The New York Times, Apple thanked the appeals court but continued its argument against the injunction.
“Our concern is that these changes would have created new privacy and security risks and disrupted the user experience customers love about the App Store,” the company said.
We have reached out to Epic Games and will update this article if we hear back.