Apple is scrambling. Federal judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled in September that, in the ongoing case of Epic v. Apple, Apple’s ban on external payment methods was anticompetitive. Apple, eager to exhaust every possible appeal option in the case, filed for a stay against the court’s order to implement alternative payment processing.
Judge Gonzalez Rogers has rejected the request for a stay outright, concluding that Apple will need to rectify the issue by December 9. In her ruling, she says that Apple “ignores all of the findings which supported the injunction, namely incipient antitrust conduct including supercompetitive commission rates resulting in extraordinarily high operating margins and which have not been correlated to the value of its intellectual property.”
But Apple’s appeals didn’t stop at mere ignorance. No, Apple fully went out of its way to exaggerate — by any means necessary — the harm that implementing such a system would cause. According to Judge Gonzalez Rogers, Apple claimed allowing developers to add external links and “metabuttons” would irreparably harm the trust users have in Apple’s app ecosystem.
Yeah, it looks like Apple made up some new kind of button to get around the judge’s orders. You can’t make this shit up.
Yeah, they really said that — Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ ruling against Apple’s requested stay is clear and concise. One of her main arguments against granting the stay is that Apple’s line of reasoning doesn’t match up with its requested stay. Apple said it would need significantly longer than a couple of months to implement full external payment options — but it asked for the rule to be put off indefinitely, not just until a later date.
More shocking, though, is Apple’s attempt to argue that adding links and “metabuttons” would ruin the App Store’s airtight integrity. The judge dismisses this claim immediately, stating that she can “envision numerous avenues for Apple to comply with the injunction and yet take steps to protect users.”
What Judge Gonzalez Rogers does not explicate upon is this one tricky word: metabuttons. What is a metabutton, you ask? As far as we can tell it means absolutely nothing at all. If anything, it sounds like a new offering from that big social media company. Apple truly just made up a new kind of button to add to its list of excuses. Metabuttons.
And the war rages on — Metabuttons aside, the ruling is a definite defeat for Apple. The company hoped for some leniency from Judge Gonzalez Rogers here or sympathy at least to the supposed difficulty of implementing a fix. Apple found nothing of the sort.
This ruling may have begun with Epic’s decision to work around Apple’s internal payment processing last summer, but the situation goes far beyond that case, now. Judge Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple’s decision to kick Epic off the App Store did not go against antitrust laws — but that win for Apple did not cover payment processing.
Apple is ready to fight to the bitter end for this one. It plans to appeal to the Ninth Circuit court for a stay this time. The company’s go-to line about external links making the App Store less safe may have some merit, but this is Apple we’re talking about. Surely the best minds in the industry can figure out some way to vet external links. But then again, doing that would compromise its ability to collect 30 percent of all in-app sales — so it’s no wonder Apple is dragging its feet.