Update 11:47 a.m. ET: Added analyst comment.
Apple takes a cut of everything you buy in the iOS App Store, but that could change. The Supreme Court ruled Monday (May 13) that an antitrust lawsuit against Apple can proceed, which may spell the end of Apple’s 30% commission on third-party apps.
The Supreme Court justices ruled 5-4 that a class-action lawsuit filed by consumers can proceed, the Washington Post reported. The group of plaintiffs argued that developers priced their apps higher than they otherwise would to account for Apple’s commission. Apple’s response: Because the App Store is a marketplace, Apple isn’t responsible for how developers price their apps.
But now the antitrust lawsuit can go ahead, which could have ramifications for other tech companies who offer platforms for services. Those companies, which include Facebook, Google and Amazon, were on Apple’s side during the Supreme Court deliberation, and may be affected by the outcome of the antitrust suit.
It isn’t just paid apps or in-app purchases that make pricing decisions to account for Apple’s decision. Subscription services like Spotify raise their monthly rates by 30% if you sign up in the iOS app versus through the company directly.
Spotify filed a complaint against Apple in the European Union, and the EU has launched an antitrust investigation into Apple’s App Store commission practices.
Now Apple has to contend with legal challenges on both sides of the pond. At the same time, the company is raking in money from App Store purchases — and paying developers billions. In 2018, Apple paid out $34 billion in App Store revenues to app developers, a 28% increase year-over-year.
So what does this Supreme Court decision mean for those of us who buy apps in the App Store? Not much — yet.
"It doesn't change how much apps cost, what Apple charges its developers, or whether consumers can load apps from outside the App Store," said Techsponential lead analyst Avi Greengart. "The controlled software environment is a key value proposition for iOS, so Apple can be expected to fight this vigorously. But if Apple does lose, one possible outcome is that Apple might be forced to allow consumers to install apps from outside the App Store."
We have reached out to Apple for comment and will update this story with any response.