Apple will allow app developers to send email notifications to users about alternative payment methods and thus bypass the in-app payment system, where the tech giant takes a cut of 15 to 30% on every purchase.

As the Guardian notes, the company’s offer is part of a preliminary settlement in a lawsuit filed on behalf of iPhone app developers in the United States nearly two years ago. If the court makes such a decision and the parties agree, the new rules will come into force.

Pay by email and reduce fees for 3 years

In a preliminary settlement of the lawsuit, which was aimed at lowering the App Store’s fees (or better yet, the possibility of using alternative payment methods), Apple proposed the following:

  • The company will allow app developers to send emails to users about alternative payment methods and thus bypass fees.
  • He will also agree not to raise the commission rate for small developers, which he cut last year from 30% to 15%, for at least three years.
  • Apple will also create a $100 million fund that will pay thousands of app developers involved in the lawsuit between $250 and $30,000.

These changes will really help small developers reduce the cost of their apps to users or earn a little more.

«We are truly proud that the case, brought by two developers standing in the shoes of tens of thousands of US iOS developers, could help bring about so many important changes,» said Steve Berman, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

But major publishers are still unhappy

Image: Coalition for App Fairness

But as the New York Times notes, the App Fairness Coalition, a group of companies fighting to change app store policy globally, was unhappy with the concessions. This group appeared after the Fortnite developer, publisher Epic Games Store, bypassed the 30% App Store commission and was removed from the store.

In their opinion, the agreement was a «bogus agreement» designed to appease the courts, regulators and lawmakers, but this does not change the essence of Apple’s complete control. And their statement is logical, given the fact that for large publishers the commission is still at 30%, and not all users will accept payment by alternative methods via e-mail.

“This proposal does not address the structural, fundamental issues that all developers, big and small, face, which undermines innovation and competition in the app ecosystem. Allowing developers to communicate with their customers about lower prices outside of their apps is not a concession and re-emphasizes Apple has full control over the app market,» said the coalition, which includes Epic Games, Spotify, Match Group (owns Tinder), Basecamp, Tile, Deezer and hundreds of other publishers.

Why is it so important

In November 2020, the developer Fortnite, Epic Games, bypassed the 30% App Store and Google Play fees and the game was immediately removed from the app stores. This once again raised the issue of high fees on these platforms. And if you can install a third-party store on Android, then the App Store has a monopoly on the distribution of applications in the Apple ecosystem.

Epic Games has created an entire «App Justice Coalition» against platform owners and exorbitant commissions, joined by Tinder, Spotify, Deezer and dozens of smaller developers. As a result, the platform holders had to make concessions and reduce the commission. But the main goal of developers is to gain freedom in choosing payment methods.