In a settlement in the US with a number of independent app developers, Apple has committed to allowing independent app developers using the Apple App Store to reach out to users outside of the apps, such as via email, to inform them of alternative ways to make payments. Currently, payments through the App Store and in-app payments must be made using Apple Pay, from which Apple takes a percentage cut, and developers are allegedly prohibited from contacting their users in different ways to tell them about alternatives.
The settlement will allow developers to inform their users, via email or other communication methods, of payment methods which avoid the Apple Pay percentage fee, potentially resulting in cheaper subscriptions for users and/or better margins for developers. Any payments made through the apps will still be required to use Apple Pay.
The requirement to use Apple Pay is the topic of various complaints and legal challenges, including cases brought by Epic Games in the US and Australia, and in the Spotify complaint to the EU that has resulted in a European Commission investigation.
The settlement also included payment of $100 million by Apple to the developers, and a commitment for Apple to maintain its “small business programme”, which reduces the percentage cut taken by Apple on payments from 30% to 15% for smaller developers, for three years.
MLex has reported statements from Apple that it maintains that its practices were lawful, and the settlement results from a preference to “work with developers than litigate against them.”
Lawyers representing the developers have said that the settlement will “bring meaningful improvements to US iOS developers who distribute their digital wares through the App Store, especially for those small developers who bring so much creativity and energy to their work”, according to MLex.
The settlement agreement must be approved by the US Courts.
Please contact Tim Cowen if you have any questions regarding the above.