From Bloomberg’s “Epic-Apple Judge Signals Her Ruling Won’t Please Either Side” posted Tuesday:
Here’s how some outcomes could play out:
- No change to status quo: The judge rejects all of Epic’s claims against Apple, granting the iPhone maker a sweeping victory. This would result in no forced changes to the App Store, allowing Apple to continue to require developers to distribute their software exclusively through its store and ban third-party in-app-purchase systems.
- Tweaks to App Store policies: The judge modifies Apple’s license agreements to allow third-party App Stores on iOS. She could also rule that Apple has to provide ongoing support for third-party stores so that they don’t break from future software updates. The judge will decide whether this exemption to App Store rules applies only to Epic or is required for all developers.
- Sweeping changes: The judge finds the App Store is anticompetitive and issues an injunction, as requested by Epic, that blocks the store from carrying on business as usual. In this scenario she might rule that Apple must make a combination of changes that include providing support for third-party app download stores and permitting in-app transactions through alternative payment systems.
- A compromise: The judge issues a more nuanced decision that mostly retains Apple’s control of the App Store and its in-app-purchase system. But Apple might have to allow to developers to have links, which could be in the form of a button in an app, to lead users away from the App Store to payments systems on the web where they can buy virtual goods at lower rates.
Legal experts gave Apple the advantage heading into the trial. But a complete victory for the iPhone maker looked less certain Friday during the judge’s sharp questioning of Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, when Gonzalez Rogers voiced skepticism about Apple’s argument that the benefits of its tight controls on how apps are vetted and marketed outweigh Epic’s antitrust claims.
My take: The compromise Bloomberg proposes seems like a good bet.