Apple Could Continue Taxing Developers for IAPs Made with Third-Party Payment Systems

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 3 Dec 2021

After the Epic Games lawsuit, Apple was ordered to allow app developers to integrate third-party payment systems into their apps for in-app purchases (IAPs). A legal filing reveals that Apple intends to comply but will charge the commission anyway.

App developers are charged a 15-30 percent commission on the App Store for using Apple’s billing system. Now, the filing reveals that the Cupertino giant will allow apps to rely on third-party billing systems. However, it will still charge the developers a commission for all purchases initiated on iOS apps. So, Apple will get a commission even if users buy or subscribe to digital services if an iPhone or iPad was used for the purchase.

The judge presiding over the Epic vs. Apple case gave the iPhone maker until December 9 to implement the changes. The deadline is drawing nearer, but nothing suggests that the company is inclined to change its guidelines. It has said that its current policies are already in compliance with the court’s directive.

The legal filing reads that if the court grants an injunction, Apple could charge a commission on purchases made through Apple devices in general. CEO Tim Cook had also signaled this intention at a court hearing earlier this year.

The filing has reportedly been presented in court as a last-minute attempt to defer the December 9 implementation deadline. Apple highlights “substantial engineering” required to allow and implement the necessary changes. It says policies and APIs related to Parental Controls and purchase restoration need to be reworked to keep working in a world where people can make purchases on platforms other than Apple IAP.

Note that Apple’s legal filing is merely an indication of potential changes. It does not confirm any future action plans regarding the matter yet.

Meanwhile, Google has announced a similar policy for the Play Store. According to the revised policy, Play Store will allow developers to use alternatives to Google Play Billing but will collect an 11 percent commission on the transactions anyway. That is only 4 percent cheaper than the search giant’s commission when developers use the Google Play billing system.

If Apple continues to tax developers when you buy using third-party IAP systems, would you still buy from an Apple device or look elsewhere?