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Epic vs Apple ruling delays third-party app payments — what it means for you

App Store
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

An appeals court has granted Apple’s request for a stay in its Apple Store changes required by the Epic Games vs Apple ruling. Because of this stay (opens in new tab), Apple can continue its IAP system as the only source of in-app payment on iOS.

This is in contrast to the district court’s previous ruling which said the exclusive arrangement was illegal. Because of this stay, it could take months for the appeals court to fully hear the case — meaning consumers won’t see third-party app payments on iOS for the time being.

In the original ruling, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers wanted Apple to adjust its App Store guidelines to let developers use third-party payment options. Apple had a Dec. 9 deadline to allow developers to let customers make digital purchases outside of the App Store. With the stay in place, the changes won’t move forward until the appeal gets settled.

"Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions on the merits of the district court’s determination," read the ruling. "Therefore, we grant Apple’s motion to stay part (i) of paragraph (1) of the permanent injunction. The stay will remain in effect until the mandate issues in this appeal."

The ruling went on to say, "Therefore, we grant Apple’s motion to stay part (i) of paragraph (1) of the permanent injunction. The stay will remain in effect until the mandate issues in this appeal."

As noted by The Verge (opens in new tab), the stay doesn’t extend to the second part of the injunction that deals with user communications outside of iOS. The court ordered Apple to allow "communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app."

Apple doesn’t want to change its current policy due to what it claims are privacy and security risks that could come by allowing customers to use third-party payments.

In a statement to Tom's Guide attributable to Apple, the company says:

"We’re constantly evolving the App Store to help create an even better experience for our users and the incredibly talented community of iOS developers. 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. We want to thank the court for granting this stay while the appeals process continues."

Apple’s concerns aren’t without merit, and it makes sense that it would want to protect its customers from potential risks involved by allowing third-party payment options. Also, Apple does market itself as a major privacy advocate in the mobile phone space. However, this limits users to paying through iOS instead of a third-party’s own systems.

It means that Apple will always be able to take a cut from App Store sales indefinitely, and given the size and scope of its marketplace, could account to monopolistic behavior, at least according to Epic and not Judge Gonzalez Rogers. This stay could merely be a reprieve, however, since Apple will still have to comply with the original order if it loses on appeal.

Tony Polanco
Tony Polanco

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.