- Apple has made it easier for app developers to contact customers about direct payments, The Verge reported.
- This could make it easier for developers to avoid Apple’s 30% levy on in-app purchases.
- Apple is currently in a legal battle with Epic Games, the maker of “Fortnite,” over App Store fees.
Apple has made it easier for iOS app developers to contact customers about alternatives to paying through the App Store, the company announced Thursday.
By getting payment directly from customers, app developers can avoid fees Apple charges on some in-app purchases, which range from 15% to 30%.
Apple said it was “clarifying that developers can use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app,” the company said in its announcement.
“As always, developers will not pay Apple a commission on any purchases taking place outside of their app or the App Store,” it said in the announcement. It added that users must give consent to the communication, and have the right to opt out .
Apple said that, pending court approval, and coupled with other App Store changes, this would resolve a class-action suit from US developers. A group of iOS developers brought the lawsuit against Apple in 2019 in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that Apple monopolized US distribution services for iOS apps and in-app digital products.
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The Verge reported that the latest changes may not be as major as they first seem: Apple revised its App Store guidelines in June to allow developers to contact their users outside of their app about alternative payment methods, per the report.
But in June’s change, developers couldn’t use contact information obtained within their app — under Apple’s latest announcement, they can, The Verge reported. This could make it easier for developers to contact customers.
Developers still can’t inform customers of alternative payment methods directly through the app.
Anger has been growing among developers about Apple’s App Store levy. The European Union launched an antitrust investigation into it in 2020, following a complaint by Spotify, which said that the fee was forcing it to raise its own subscription prices, in turn giving an advantage to Apple Music.
Apple is also currently in a legal battle with Epic Games after Apple booted Epic’s video game “Fortnite” off the App Store.
Apple says it pulled the game because Epic violated the terms of its developer agreement by implementing a payment system that let players circumvent the App Store. Epic says that the App Store is a monopoly and that its fees make it anti-competitive.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has waded in on the argument, too, siding with Epic and calling Apple’s fees “a de facto global tax on the Internet.”
On Thursday, as part of its settlement of the class-action lawsuit, Apple also said that it would continue letting businesses earning less than $1 million from the App Store annually pay the lower 15% commission rate “for at least the next three years. “
The company also announced that it was creating a $100 million fund to help US developers who have earned less than $1 million a year since 2015. It said it would create an annual App Store transparency report with statistics about the app review process, the number of apps rejected for different reasons, and the number of apps removed .