Apple has been ordered to allow alternative forms of in-app purchase in a decision hailed as a potential “breakthrough” for crypto.
The tech giant has been involved in a legal battle against Epic Games, maker of the smash-hit title Fortnite.
Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney is a long-standing critic of the 30% fee collected by the App Store and other digital storefronts.
The games firm filed a lawsuit accusing Apple of running a monopoly, calling for it to be forced to allow alternative payments within apps and making several other demands.
Although Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers rejected nine out of 10 counts in the case, she ruled that Apple could no longer prohibit access to alternative payment platforms within apps.
“Apple [is] permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to In-App Purchasing and communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app,” she said.
Fred Wilson, a VC and blogger, suggested the ruling could allow crypto payments within apps downloaded from the App Store – which would be an “epic” leap towards mainstream acceptance.
“I read that to say that apps that use crypto rails for payments cannot be blocked by Apple anymore,” he wrote.
“If so, that is a decision of enormous consequences for the crypto sector and yet another opening for it.”
Apple said the victory shows that its “App Store business model has been validated” and called it a “resounding victory” that “underscores the merit of our business both as an economic and competitive engine”.
In a statement, Apple general counsel and senior vice president Katherine Adams wrote: “We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling and we consider this a huge win for Apple. This decision validates that Apple’s “success is not illegal,” as the judge said. As the Court found “both Apple and third-party developers like Epic Games have symbiotically benefited from the ever-increasing innovation and growth in the iOS ecosystem.”
“The Court has confirmed, after reviewing evidence from a 16-day trial, that Apple is not a monopolist in any relevant market and that its agreements with app developers are legal under the antitrust laws. Let me repeat that: the Court found that Apple is not a monopolist under either federal or state antitrust laws.”
The tech colossus is notoriously secretive, meaning it is impossible to tell whether it has plans to incorporate crypto in the App Store or not. However, there are signs that it is interested in joining the revolution in some capacity.
Earlier this year, Apple posted a job advert for a business development manager with cryptocurrency experience.
“This position will be responsible for the end-to-end business development, including screening partners, negotiating and closing commercial agreements, and launching new programs,” Apple wrote.
Candidates need to have five years of experience working “in or with alternative payment providers, such as digital wallets, BNPL, Fast Payments, cryptocurrency, etc.”.
If Apple did make a move into crypto, it would revolutionize the space. It has already created huge markets and product categories by introducing the iPod, iPad, iPhone, iTunes, and many other products and services.
The introduction of iCrypto would be big news for the sector – and the entire world. Sadly, we just don’t know what Apple’s plans are right now and will find out only when it wants to tell us.