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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

"Fortnite" creator Epic Games' Apple lawsuit failed to level the walls of the App Store, though it did leave some cracks in Apple's fortress.

Yes, but: The modest changes Apple now has to make are more likely to benefit other iOS developers than to help Epic itself, unless the game-maker backs down from an all-or-nothing approach.

Driving the news: In a Friday ruling, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple was not a monopoly and denied the bulk of Epic's requests.

  • However, the judge did strike down Apple's policy — what antitrust lawyers call "anti-steering" — that prevents developers from linking to other ways to buy in-app digital goods and services.
  • Epic was also ordered to pay a few million dollars in damages to Apple, but that's not what either side really cares about.

Catch up quick: Epic kicked off the fight back in 2020 by adding its own payment mechanism to the "Fortnite" app, despite Apple's prohibition. Apple kicked "Fortnite" out of the App Store, and then Epic sued.

Between the lines: Apple said it is still studying the ruling — and it could appeal. On Sunday, Epic filed its notice of appeal.

  • If the verdict stands, it could benefit companies from Match Group to Roblox, who offer both in-app purchases through Apple as well as alternative options via the web.

The big picture: The judge's ruling comes on top of two other changes to the App Store brought about through legal actions.

What they're saying: Epic, for its part, made it clear it wasn't satisfied with the ruling.

  • "'Fortnite' will return to the iOS App Store when and where Epic can offer in-app payment in fair competition with Apple in-app payment, passing along the savings to consumers," CEO Tim Sweeney said on Twitter, promising to "fight on." (He was later egged on by Elon Musk.)

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 15, 2021 - Technology

Apple banks on subsidies

Apple CEO Tim Cook, introducing the iPhone 13 on Tuesday. Photo: Apple

With the iPhone 13 lineup providing only modest updates to Apple's flagship smartphone, the company may be even more reliant on promotions from wireless carriers to keep the sales momentum going.

Why it matters: Apple counts on the iPhone for a huge chunk of its own sales, while such sales are also critical to the rest of the mobile industry, including network providers and component suppliers.

1 hour ago - Health

First Texas doctor sued for performing abortion in violation of new law

Abortion rights activists march to the house of US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in Chevy Chase Maryland, on Sept. 13, 2021, following the court's decision to uphold a stringent abortion law in Texas. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

A San Antonio physician is facing a lawsuit after he admitted performing an abortion considered illegal under Texas' new law.

Why it matters: The civil suit, filed by a convicted felon in Arkansas, against Alan Braid is the first such suit under the law that allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps a pregnant person obtain an abortion after six weeks.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats propose raising debt ceiling through midterms

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House and Senate leadership announced on Monday that they plan to attach a proposal to raise the debt ceiling through Dec. 2022 to a short-term, government funding bill. The bill must pass before the end of the month or Congress risks a shutdown.

Why it matters: Democrats are taking a huge risk by trying to force through an increase of the debt limit in its must-pass funding bill. The move is wishful thinking on behalf of Democrats who are hoping they can get at least 10 centrist Republicans to balk, as well as an effort to put Republicans on record opposing it.