Apple has reached a settlement with small app developers, agreeing to pay them $100 million and loosen App Store restrictions that prevented them from billing customers directly.
The settlement would resolve a class-action lawsuit in which a group of app makers alleged Apple violated antitrust laws in the way it operates the App Store.
In addition to establishing a $100 million fund for developers who made less than $1 million a year in the App Store from June 2015 through April 2021, Apple agreed to let app makers use information collected inside their apps to tell customers about payment options outside the App Store, circumventing Apple’s commission of up to 30%.
“The settlement appears to be a small price to pay for the world’s richest company to avoid another extended legal fight that could have posed major risks to its business by targeting the iPhone App Store,” The New York Times said. “In practice, some major companies, such as Spotify, already push their customers to evade Apple’s commissions.”
But The Verge reported that the agreement is “not what many developers have been asking for: a way to let users know, inside their app, that they don’t have to pay using Apple’s in-app payment system and incur its up-to-30-percent toll.”
“This offer does nothing to address the structural, foundational problems facing all developers, large and small, undermining innovation and competition in the app ecosystem,” said the Coalition for App Fairness, a group of companies that are fighting to change Apple’s App Store policies.
“Allowing developers to communicate with their customers about lower prices outside of their apps is not a concession and further highlights Apple’s total control over the app marketplace,” it added.
The settlement still has to be approved by a federal judge who is also presiding over a more high-profile case in which “Fortnite” maker Epic Games is seeking to force Apple to allow app developers to avoid App Store commissions altogether.
In a briefing with reporters, an Apple executive said it was a major concession for the company to allow developers to tell customers, via email and other channels, about alternative payment methods.