On September 10, a federal judge in California ruled that app developers can now direct users to payment options outside the App Store. That said, the court failed to “ultimately conclude that Apple is a monopolist.” Nor did the ruling force Apple into allowing third-party app stores on iOS. The iPhone maker was also allowed to keep its steep 30% commission. While Epic has lost on 9 of 10 counts, the Fortnite company might just have powerful allies in Washington. These include the Department of Justice, as well as the Senate Judiciary’s antitrust panel.
The Trump Justice Department launched an antitrust investigation into Apple back in 2019, Politico reports. Since then, DOJ has been mostly focused on a separate case against Google, but this summer the agency assigned additional lawyers to the Apple investigation, expecting to wrap it up by the end of this year.
The lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary’s antitrust panel also recognize “serious competition concerns” in the app store space, according to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). “We need to pass federal legislation on app store conduct to protect consumers, promote competition and foster innovation,” she said.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) agrees. “How a judge could look at the evidence and rule that Apple is not a monopoly defies logic,” he said.
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) hailed the court’s decision regarding proprietary payment options as “a good first step for developer’s rights.”
With Epic having already appealed Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ ruling, and given all the scrutiny from the DOJ and the Senate Judiciary’s antitrust panel, it seems pretty clear that Apple is yet to face its hardest legal battle.
Even Gonzalez Rogers herself admitted that while “the Court cannot ultimately conclude that Apple is a monopolist under either federal or state antitrust laws… the Court does not find that it is impossible; only that Epic Games failed in its burden to demonstrate Apple is an illegal monopolist.”
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