Apple Judge Skeptical About Putting App Store Change on Hold
(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge expressed skepticism toward Apple Inc.’s request to cancel a December deadline to change the lucrative business model for its App Store while the iPhone maker’s legal fight with Epic Games Inc. is on appeal.
Apple is asking U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers to let the company move at its own pace to tweak rules to allow developers to steer customers to payment methods outside the App Store, an overhaul the judge ordered in September that could cost the tech giant a few billion dollars annually.
Gonzalez Rogers held a brief hearing Tuesday in Oakland, California, and said she intends to rule quickly.
Her Sept. 10 ruling following a trial largely vindicated Apple’s business model that charges commissions on developers for App Store transactions, but the judge said Apple must allow direct communication between users and app makers and permit links to the web to complete transactions. She gave Apple 90 days to change its rules.
A lawyer for Apple argued the company can’t make App Store policy changes at a global level in a rush as it will take months to figure out the engineering, economic, business and other issues. Apple already has said it would allow direct communication between developers and users and that it will allow some apps, including those for video streaming, to point users to the web to sign up.
“It’s going to be exceedingly complicated,” company attorney Mark Perry told the judge.
But Gonzalez Rogers shot back: “The problem is that you haven’t asked for additional time.” She said Apple is now seeking her blessing to take years to make the policy changes she ordered.
Epic’s attorney, Gary Bornstein, argued that “the idea that Apple should be trusted to sort this out on its own is very telling,” because all the measures it has taken so far have been in response to the class-action suit brought by developers and directions from Japanese regulators.
“Apple does nothing unless it is forced to do it,” Bornstein said.
The case is Epic Games Inc. v. Apple Inc., 20-cv-05640, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).
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