The broad argument is that Apple has artificially driven up the price of apps by virtue of its monopolistic control over the App Store. The iPhone giant said it only acted as the intermediary, providing a storefront where consumers found and purchased the apps they later installed on their phones. Pepper class-action lawsuit was introduced by iPhone users in 2011, arguing that Apple has a monopoly on the iPhone apps market, because the Apple Store is the only place where such apps can be bought. It took more than two years for this issue of whether Apple can even be sued to work its way through appeals.
Apple has been under pressure recently from third-party developers, including Spotify, who complain that Apple's software gives it an unfair advantage in the App Store and are seeking a review by the European Commissioner for Competition.
We see three main problems with Apple's "who sets the price" theory. "If the rate is lowered at AAPL or GOOG, the other would quickly follow", he wrote.
He added, "At this early pleadings stage of the litigation, we do not assess the merits of the plaintiffs' antitrust claims against Apple, nor do we consider any other defenses Apple might have".
"In the retail context, the price charged by a retailer to a consumer is often a result (at least in part) of the price charged by the manufacturer or supplier to the retailer, or of negotiations between the manufacturer or supplier and the retailer", Kavanaugh wrote.
The court's other four conservatives, on the other hand, bought Apple's argument that what ultimately mattered was the fact that app developers-not Apple-determined app prices. Other changes to iMessage and Apple Maps appear to be meant to win users over from popular third-party equivalents such as WhatsApp, Google Maps and Waze. The ruling "exalts form over substance", Gorsuch said in an opinion joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.
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The United States Supreme Court ruled that a group of consumers should be permitted to sue Apple for the way apps are priced on its App Store. Engadget has reached out to Apple for comment. When was the last time most of us downloaded anything to an iPhone that wasn't from the App Store?
Mark Rifkin, one of the lawyers pressing the suit, called the ruling "a major victory for consumers in an increasingly consumer-unfriendly environment".
Apple has said the consumers were indirect purchasers, at best, because any overcharge would be passed on to them by developers.
Apple sought to block the lawsuit, asserting that it had not set the prices on the apps and thus the iPhone owners had no standing to sue.
New Justice Brett Kavanaugh is joining the court's four liberals Monday in rejecting a plea from Cupertino, California-based Apple to end the lawsuit over the 30% commission the company charges software developers whose apps are sold through the App Store.
Apple contended that users shouldn't be allowed to sue, citing a 1977 Supreme Court decision that they are not considered "direct purchasers".