Apple agrees to let iPhone app developers directly email users, costing tech giant billions

The concession was announced late Thursday by Apple in background briefing with reporters.

Updated: August 27, 2021 - 10:28am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Apple has agreed to allow the developers of iPhone apps to directly email users about less expensive ways to pay for digital subscriptions and media — circumventing a commission system that generates billions of dollars annually for the iPhone maker.

The concession was announced late Thursday by Apple in a background briefing with reporters. And it's part of a preliminary settlement included in a roughly 2-year-old lawsuit filed on behalf of iPhone app developers in the U.S., according to the Associated Press.

Under long-standing Apple rules, makers of iPhone apps were forbidden to email users with information on how to pay for services outside the app, which would circumvent Apple commissions of 15% to 30%.

Still, Apple still isn't allowing developers to use in-app notifications to get consumers to explore different payment options.

The concession also addresses concerns raised by a federal judge who's expected to rule soon on a separate case by Epic Games, maker of the Fortnite video game.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has repeatedly raised questions while presiding over the high-profile Epic-Apple trial. She has asked why Apple couldn't allow developers to display a range of payment options within their apps, much like brick-and-mortar retailers can show a range of different credit cards they accept in addition to cash, the wire service also reports.