Apple will now allow US based developers to include links to external websites to inform users about alternative subscription methods, a move prompted by the recent decision of the US Supreme Court.

The court declined to hear appeals from both Apple and Epic Games on Tuesday (17 January), reinforcing a lower court ruling from 2021 that prevented Apple from blocking developers from including such links.

Developers opting to use external links to facilitate digital purchases will, however, face a 27% fee imposed by Apple. For participants in Apple’s Small Business Program or those with auto-renewing subscriptions in their second year, the fee is reduced to 12%, down from the standard 15%.

While this adjustment provides a 3% discount for developers utilising alternative payment methods, some argue that this might not be sufficient, especially considering additional fees from third-party payment processors.

Apple grants a 3-point discount for Dutch dating apps and a 4-point reduction in commissions for apps based in South Korea.

In a bid to emphasise the advantages of its payment system, Apple highlighted its convenience, safety, and security in an update outlining the App Store rule changes.

It underscored that using alternative payment methods would mean users lose features like Family Sharing. Apple would be unable to assist with refunds and subscription management, shifting responsibility onto developers.

Developers seeking to include links in their apps must apply for permission, and transaction reports need to be submitted within 15 days of each calendar month’s conclusion, according to Apple’s guidelines.

The company also outlined interface guidelines for developers, including messaging to inform users about potential limitations when opting for third-party payment options.

Apple, acknowledging the challenge of collecting a commission given the App Store’s scale, anticipates the task to be “exceedingly difficult, and in many cases, impossible,” as reported by 9to5Mac.

However, regulatory developments, such as the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), may impact Apple’s revenue by compelling it to allow sideloading and third-party app stores.

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By GlobalData