Friday, September 17, 2021

Epic’s court order against Apple should worry Google

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The Apple vs. Epic drama probably isn’t over yet, but the courts have come to one conclusion. While it’s far from the victory Epic may have hoped for, the court has issued an injunction against Apple that should at least allow developers to point customers to non-Apple payment options. It’s a small bit of good news for iOS developers, but it leaves us in Android land wondering: How might this affect Google’s Play Store billing enforcement changes, which are set to kick in at the end of this very month?

In case you’ve forgotten (which would be understandable), Google actually has the same rules that Apple did when it came to in-app billing, the difference is that it didn’t aggressively enforce them, but it plans to start doing that at the end of this month. Until now, apps like Spotify and Amazon’s Kindle have been able to get away with essentially ignoring the rules, and that’s why you can buy books right from the Kindle app on your Android phone or tablet, but you can’t do that on your iPhone or iPad. Technically that was against Google’s rules, but the company kind of didn’t care — at least, if you had a big enough name. Google even offered special deals for particularly large companies that were willing to use its in-app billing rather than their own.

Right off the bat, I’d like to point out that the injunction isn’t against Google, so the immediate impact here is zero, but there could be some very important spill-over if this is taken as a precedent. If it is, nothing is stopping Epic or another company from pursuing their own action against Google itself for its planned changes.

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  • Epic’s court order against Apple should worry Google
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