• What Does Apple’s Settlement of App Store Lawsuit Mean for Cryptocurrency’s NFT?

  • Crypto Twitter has been mostly silent on the news last week that Apple will settle a class action lawsuit filed by developers in 2019.

    But those aware of this momentous event are aware of the potential impact of the US tech giant loosening its grip on various sectors of the blockchain industry as a whole, particularly in relation to non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

    NFTs are unique assets that grant gamers and collectors full ownership of their digital items. You may recall that earlier this year, artist Beeple sold a digital artwork at auction for a staggering $69.3 million. Since then, the industry has caught fire, with everyone from celebrities to charities and news outlets trying to capitalize on the craze.

    While cryptocurrencies are still being studied as an efficient and acceptable mainstream payment method, NFTs continue to break new ground.

    “Whether or not cryptocurrencies become a common form of payment in the “real world,” they are increasingly being used in gaming through NFTs and blockchain-based studios,” wrote venture capitalist Mathew Ball in a June blog post.

    Bauer argues that the main reason most cryptocurrency games and NFT platforms are browser-based only, rather than packaged as iOS apps, is because of Apple’s restrictions on smaller developers.

    On August 26, Apple agreed to ease restrictions on smaller developers in a legal settlement that could see Apple pay $100 million and allow developers to direct consumers to payment tracks outside of the store. This will allow developers to avoid Apple’s charge of up to 30 percent for online purchases in iOS apps.

    The Cameron et al. v. Apple settlement is awaiting approval from U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in the Northern District of California.

    If all goes well, Apple will also allow developers around the world to discuss alternative payment methods directly with customers, using data collected from within their apps, pending customer permission.

    Some believe that the extension offered to NFTs will be a major win for the developers and creators behind cryptocurrency-based projects, who will suddenly gain access to a large number of tech-savvy users.

    “This is a landmark case for the NFT industry,” said Simon Kertonegoro, CEO of MyMetaverse and marketing consultant for NFT powerhouse Enjin.” In the near future, NFTs will be sold on websites, games, apps and decentralized marketplaces on the Internet. Users will then hopefully be able to plug these NFTs into iOS apps and enjoy their in-app utility.”

    Kertonegoro joins a growing list of NFT advocates who see Apple’s settlement as a “big step” toward the tech giant becoming an ecosystem capable of “fully supporting NFTs.”

    Legal woes

    Developer fees, as well as Apple’s rules requiring the use of the tech giant’s payment options in apps where no other payment method is available, also form a large part of a separate lawsuit filed by Epic Games, the developer of the “Fortnite” video game.

    Epic Games Inc. v. Apple Inc. is considered a landmark antitrust case and is currently being presided over by the same judge who oversaw the Cameron et al. v. Apple settlement.

    Last week’s proposal hits at the heart of the problem for small developers with less than $1 million in annual revenue. It’s also the first major concession Apple has made in several antitrust investigations. Apple has defended its app store practices, which impose strict rules on developers using contact information obtained from customers who sign up through the app store.

    In a statement last week, Apple said it “appreciates the feedback from developers” that helped lead to the settlement and that the tech giant “respects the ongoing judicial review process” while praising its app store as “an economic miracle.”

    Pending approval, the agreement provides that developers can share payment options with customers outside of their iOS apps, expand subscription price points as well as in-app purchases, and that Apple will create a new fund to help U.S. developers.

    “Apple allowing developers to accept payments directly from consumers outside of its app store is a huge win for the NFT industry,” said Mateen Soudagar, a blogger and investor in blockchain and NFT.” There is no doubt that a large number of the world’s device users are mobile based, so the ability to expand current games, marketplaces, collectible items and other web3/NFT based items to a huge new, digital native user base is incredible for the industry.”

    Soudagar, like his contemporaries, believes the agreement will have a significant impact on the NFT industry, which could take on a whole new form in the coming year.

    “I expect the NFT industry to look very different …… and the expansion into mobile is definitely the catalyst to make that happen.”

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