Are there any true winners in the Apple vs Epic case? Friday's ruling in the ongoing battle between the two companies over in-app purchases saw a measure of defeat in both sides.
The 185 page ruling contained some victories for Apple. It will not be forced to allow a third-party in-app payment system, nor will it be compelled to reinstate Epic's developer account. The court also stopped short of labelling Apple an "illegal monopolist", although it did say the tech giant's rules on its App Store business violated California state competition laws.
Epic, meanwhile, was ordered to pay damages to Apple for breach of contract. The company had built a work around for its Fortnite game that would allow it to avoid paying Apple’s 30 per cent commission , leading to Apple removing the game from the App Store. Epic also eventually saw its developer account terminated.
While Apple certainly had something to be positive about – Epic lost on nine of the 10 points that it had brought to the court – it was by no means a clean sweep for the company. Apple will still have to loosen some of its rules – although it won’t have to allow third-party payment systems in apps, it was ordered by the court to allow developers to add buttons to apps that would direct them to outside payment methods.
The App Store has been chipped away at in recent months. In the past fortnight, Apple said it would allow developers of "reader" apps such as Netflix to link to external websites for payments by users, and allow developers tell customers about alternate payment methods through email and other channels, things it previously barred. It could result in millions of revenue leaving the App Store and its impact will be seen in the months to come, as the changes are implemented.
Epic has already said it plans to appeal the ruling. But it is clear this is only one battle in an ongoing war – and that war is nowhere near over.