By Emily Birnbaum

Meta Platforms Inc., Microsoft Corp., X Corp. and Match Group Inc. asked a federal judge to reject Apple Inc.’s plan for opening its App Store to outside payment options.


In a rare joint filing, the companies said Apple’s plan “comports with neither the letter nor the spirit” of a 2021 ruling which found iPhone maker in violation of California unfair competition laws and required it to allow app developers to direct users to their own payment systems.

Echoing arguments by Epic Games Inc. in its long-running antitrust fight with Apple over the App Store, the companies said Apple’s plan “imposes new restrictions on app developers that ensure the price competition that the injunction was designed to promote will never materialize.” 

The filing marks the latest volley in the back-and-forth over Apple’s tight control over its app marketplace, which is one of the world’s two dominant stores alongside Alphabet Inc.’s Google Play. An appeals court last year upheld the 2021 decision by an Oakland trial judge who found Apple’s business model violated California law by limiting developers from communicating about their alternative payment systems, which could wind up costing users less. Apple takes a cut from every purchase made on its app store.

Epic, maker of the popular Fortnite game, and Apple had both asked the Supreme Court to review the lower-court rulings, but the high court declined in January.

Apple said at the time it would let all third-party apps sold in the US include an outside link to a developer website to process payments for in-app purchases. But Epic last week asked for Apple to be held in contempt of court, claiming the company made outside links “commercially unusable” by imposing new fees.

Apple’s plan — which is nine pages and 2,900 words — describes “dozens of requirements and limitations to which developers must adhere to be eligible to include an external purchase link within their apps,” according to the filing from Meta, Microsoft, X and Match. 

Apple previously said it is complying with the court order while continuing to protect the privacy and security of its app store users. 

Though Apple is allowing app makers to include an outside link to alternative payment systems, the company is still attempting to collect a 12% or 27% revenue share from developers that opt out of the system. 

The case is Epic Games Inc. v. Apple Inc., 20-cv-05640, US District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

First Published: Mar 21 2024 | 11:49 PM IST

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