The US Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeals filed by both Apple and Epic Games following a judge’s ruling that Apple must allow developers to offer alternative methods to pay for apps and services other than through the App Store. It did not provide an explanation as to why it refused to review either appeal, but it means the permanent injunction giving developers a way to avoid the 30 percent cut Apple takes will remain in place.
Apple made the appeal to the high court back in September of last year, requesting it review the circuit court’s decision it deemed “unconstitutional.” The case brought forward by Epic Games is the first to challenge the business model of the App store, which helps Apple rake in billions. In May 2023, Apple said that developers generated about $1 trillion in total billings through the App Store in 2022. Gaming apps sold on the App Store generate an estimated $100 billion in revenue each year.
The Supreme Court denied both sides’ appeals of the Epic v. Apple antitrust case. The court battle to open iOS to competing stores and payments is lost in the United States. A sad outcome for all developers.
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) January 16, 2024
While the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of Epic’s appeal that Apple has indeed broken California's Unfair Competition law, it rejected Epic’s claim that the App store is a monopoly. In addition to declining to hear Apple’s appeal, SCOTUS also will not review Epic’s appeal that the district court had made “legal errors.”
Epic claimed that Apple violates federal antitrust laws through its business model, however, this is not an issue the high court will consider. The CEO of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, called the appeal denial “a sad outcome” on X.
Epic Games has been front and center in the fight against Apple’s developer transaction fee policy since 2020. Other companies, including Spotify and the New York Times, are also trying to challenge app store policies on Apple and Google platforms. The Coalition for App Fairness, which consists of more than 60 companies now, believes no developers should be required to use the app store exclusively. The Epic lawsuit was just the start — problems have been piling up for Apple. Even the Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly considering filing an antitrust case against it. The DOJ has been conducting an investigation into whether Apple’s App Store practices have killed competition in the space.