Apple recently said it had agreed to close a class-action lawsuit filed in 2019 by a pair of developers who accused the company of anti-competitive practices at App Store.
According to the statement from the Apple, the store will undergo some changes to adapt to what was agreed. “The terms of the contract will help make the App Store an even better business opportunity for developers, keeping the marketplace secure and trusted that users love,” the company said.
The main change, perhaps, is that it will be possible disclose call options for users outside the App Store — currently, apps cannot show their purchase/subscription options outside of the Apple ecosystem.
From the start, the App Store has been an economic miracle; it’s the safest and most trusted place for users to get apps, and an incredible business opportunity for developers to innovate, thrive and grow. We would like to thank the developers who worked with us to reach these agreements in support of the App Store’s goals and for the benefit of all our users.
—Phil Schiller, Apple Fellow who oversees the App Store.
While this change in communication may be the most relevant, Apple and those responsible for the class action set seven key priorities, which were handed over to the presiding judge for approval.
- Maintain the current structure of the App Store Small Business Program for at least three years. Companies that earn less than $1 million annually will continue to benefit from the reduced commission (15%), while developers that earn more pay the standard App Store commission (30%) on in-app purchases and in-app payments.
- At the request of the developers, Apple agreed that the search results in the App Store will continue to be based on objective features such as downloads, star ratings, text relevance and user behavior cues. The agreement will keep the current App Store search system in place for at least the next three years.
- Developers may use communications (such as email) to share information about payment methods outside of your iOS apps — purchases that pay no commission to Apple as they occur outside of the store environment. However, users must allow this type of communication and have the right to opt-out of receiving it.
- THE price grid available for developers to choose how much to charge for their apps, internal purchases or subscriptions will go from less than 100 choices to more than 500.
- Apple will retain the option for developers to call app rejections based on perceived unfair treatment, and will add more content to the App Review page to help developers understand how the appeals process works.
- Apple has agreed to create a annual transparency report based on the data it already discloses from the store, thereby sharing significant statistics about the app review process — including the number of apps rejected for different reasons, customer and developer accounts disabled, objective data on queries and search results, and the number of apps removed from the App Store.
- Apple too will establish a fund to help small US developers, heavily influenced by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible developers must have grossed $1 million or less from the US Store (taking into account all your apps, for all the years apps are available — between June 4, 2015 and April 26, 2021). According to Apple, this covers 99% of developers in the US.
It remains to be seen whether this agreement will also help Apple resolve some other cases that have arisen not only in the US, but in several countries, which investigate whether the App Store is a monopoly, with anti-competitive rules.