Meanwhile, Tim Sweeney, the head of Epic Games, ponders what the word button could mean.
Last weekend, we wrote about how there’s a big chance of both Apple and Epic Games appealing the Court’s decision, as neither party can be described as an absolute winner in the case. In some aspects, Apple reached a resounding win, while Sweeney’s company reached what it wanted in others. However, Epic could not prove that Apple is running an illegal monopoly by preventing iOS apps from offering alternatives to Apple’s payment processing systems (which can take up to 30% away in processing fees).
However, Apple did break the law. One of Apple’s rules preventing apps from advertising their payment methods was deemed anti-competitive under California’s Unfair Competition Law. This is why the Court ordered Apple to remove its rule preventing developers from including “buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms” in their apps.
The situation led to Sweeney ask a prosaic question on Twitter: what is a button? The image he attached was Siri’s response, but it did not bring up the IT definition of a button. Instead, it described the button used on clothes. His question is reasonable, though: the developers are now allowed to put “buttons” in their apps that “direct customers to purchasing mechanisms.”
Does the ruling mean they can include a button that goes to a non-Apple checkout system in the app? This situation is what Epic wants to achieve, and it led to them filing a lawsuit against both Apple and Google after introducing their unique payment methods to dodge the 30% cut the two tech companies take. It led to them booting Fortnite off both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
In short: the legal definition of the button isn’t entirely clear at the moment, but the Court did determine that Sweeney’s opinions about the metaverse are sincerely held. Perhaps we will shortly learn what a button is.