The fight to wrest control of apps from Apple’s revenue-focused grip just took a major turn in favor of Epic Games.
On Friday, a court issued a permanent injunction against Apple that now allows developers to direct customers to outside payment systems.
The ruling means that Apple’s traditional fee that cuts into developer profits can now be completely avoided, not just by Epic Games, but for any developer on the Apple App Store platform.
Previously, Apple levied a whopping 30% fee on developer earnings, a major cut that many app developers considered an unfair hardship that stifled growth and innovation. Following public scrutiny, stoked by Epic Games’ lawsuit designed to allow Fortnite users to have the option of using Epic’s in-app payment system, Apple reduced the fee to 15% for developers making less than $1 million on the App Store.
That move may have satisfied some, but the court apparently didn’t think the reduction went far enough, and now the revenue gates have been thrown open for indie and major app developers alike. The news was broken on Twitter by former attorney turned tech analyst Nilay Patel.
Of course, Apple will likely attempt to appeal the ruling. Nevertheless, for now, the decision will not only rock Apple’s bottom line, it could also spark new activity on the App Store now that the revenue limits have effectively been removed.
This turn is particularly meaningful for the augmented reality space. Despite the fact that Apple’s ARKit has facilitated a new range of mobile AR experiences, the fact is that the AR app market on Apple’s App Store simply isn’t as robust and varied as some had expected. Some believe that part of the reason for the relative dearth of ARKit apps has to do with the high fees Apple had taken, making profiting from apps on the platform a zero-sum game—you either have a mega-hit app and profit, or a mildly popular app that doesn’t really pay for its development costs.
In a cutting-edge space like AR, that dynamic can kill many apps before they are even developed. With this new ruling, it’s possible that, ironically, Apple may now see a meaningful uptick in innovative ARKit-based apps from indie developers operating on the edge who need every bit of revenue they can get.