Apple 'Still Not Playing Fair' for In-App Fees

John Lister's picture

Major tech companies including Microsoft and Meta say Apple is trying to weasel out of a court ruling on the way it handles app payments. They've weighted in on a court dispute about how to enforce a judgment against Microsoft.

The case centers on in-app payments where people who've already installed an app give extra money to the app developers. Common examples include subscriptions to a digital service or payments for additional content in games.

Apple demands a cut of either 15 or 30 percent of such payments made through its payment handling services. Critics, including games maker Epic, said this was an unfair monopoly because Apple also banned app makers from including links or other facilities to make a payment outside of Apple's system.

Apple rejected this argument saying that even if it has control over the market for iPhone and iPad apps, developers have the choice to release their games on other mobile systems instead.

New Fees Apply

Epic successfully sued Apple, with a court ordering that Apple must let developers take payments from outside of the app store. Apple later announced it would do so but with a catch: it would charge developers a new fee of 12 or 27 percent of any money they collected this way. In other words, the developers would barely be better off than before the ruling.

Epic has now returned to court to ask the judge to enforce her ruling in full and require Apple to allow payments outside of the app store with no commission fee. Tech companies including dating service Match, Meta (owner of Facebook), Microsoft and X (formerly Twitter) have now filed an amicus brief in the case. That's a statement that the court can take into account even though it's made by somebody who isn't a direct participant in the case.

Tech Giants Unimpressed

According to the statement, the new fee completely undermines the point of the original court ruling. It notes that even the slightly lower fee could actually mean app developers pay more in total as the three percent "discount" would be wiped out by the processing costs.

It added that: "Apple's new restrictions are plainly designed to render alternatives to Apple's [in-app purchases] impractical for developers, and inaccessible and unappealing to consumers, thus circumventing both the spirit and underlying goals of the injunction." (Source:

Apple says it has fully complied with the original court order and that it is necessary to protect users from visiting "unregulated external payment links." (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Is Apple breaking the spirit of the court order? Should courts consider Apple's control of iOS apps a monopoly or instead look at the context of all mobile apps? How often do you make in-app purchases?

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