Epic, says Bloomberg’s top Apple watcher, should use the App Store workaround that Netflix and Spotify settled on.
From Bloomberg’s Fully Charged newsletter, posted Friday to subscribers:
Fortnite was not the first to grapple with this issue. Spotify Technology SA and Netflix Inc. have been grumbling about it for years. Spotify has been almost as aggressive at Epic, filing an antitrust complaint against Applewith the European Commission in 2019. Europe is now ramping up an investigation that focuses on whether Apple’s control of payments lets it enforce high App Store fees. Last month, U.K antitrust authorities opened a probe into this issue, too.
Netflix has avoided public legal clashes with Apple. And both Netflix and Spotify have managed to offer successful iPhone apps with a simple solution: Users can buy subscriptions on the web or another platform and then log in to the iPhone version of these services. This avoids Apple’s App Store fees, and it’s allowed according to the company’s rules. Epic could have focused on this strategy too, instead of launching an expensive legal battle.
The big problem though is that Apple bars developers from promoting such a workaround within their iOS app or game. This is particularly challenging for newer apps that don’t have a following beyond the App Store.
Rather than spending millions of dollars and thousands of hours on this trial, a compromise on this specific rule — 3.1.3(b) — would be a cheaper and quicker solution. Apple might be better off allowing this change. Yes, more developers would probably send users to the web to pay, reducing fee income. But it would reduce the risk of Apple losing its lucrative control of App Store payments. And Epic could have followed Netflix’s lead and avoided losing over a year of App Store revenue.
My take: Well, why not?