Dating app giant Match Group believes it’s “very possible” that the recent Apple-Epic Games antitrust appeals ruling, though largely in favor of Apple, may result in App Store fee relief for developers. Speaking to investors during Match’s Q1 earnings call, Match Group CFO Gary Swidler shared the company’s thinking on the historic ruling, which upheld the lower court’s opinion that Apple was not a monopolist, but directed the iPhone maker to give developers the ability to place links in their apps that point customers to third-party payment options.
This change to Apple’s existing “anti-steering” policy, which had prohibited developers from marketing other ways to pay, was the main reason why Apple had appealed the district court’s earlier ruling. Despite losing its larger antitrust appeal, Epic Games immediately seized on this part of the appeals court decision to announce it was “working on next steps” to take advantage of the loosened permissions.
Match, meanwhile, didn’t offer a hint as to its own future plans related to the ruling, but rather spoke more broadly about the potential changes coming to the larger app market as a result of this decision as well as other new laws and global regulations.
For example, Swidler pointed investors to various battles Apple has been facing, including the recent antitrust investigation in the U.K. with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) focused on browsers and cloud gaming. Apple won that appeal, as well, but it’s representative of a market where Apple’s policy decisions will no longer go unchecked.
Meanwhile, Match said the E.U.’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), whose new rules have now started to apply, will have an impact on App Store fees.
“In the E.U., and in some other jurisdictions like India, we think there’s going to be changes that are going to result in App Store fee changes… particularly as a result of the DMA in Europe — or in the E.U. — in 2024,” Swidler told investors.
The exec said it wasn’t yet clear if the Apple-Epic ruling would result in App Store fee relief, but suggested it was “very possible,” adding that, ultimately, Apple has to decide if it wants to rethink its policies on a global basis or continue to set specific rules for each region.
“When you…factor all this in — with all these different changes and things going on and all these different jurisdictions — I think what it means is the app stores have to ask themselves a question, which is, are they going to respond to these changes in a piecemeal basis and have different policies and fee structures and approaches in different markets? Or are they going to have one global policy that addresses all of these really significant and valid concerns, and change app store policies to reflect a more fair app store ecosystem for consumers?,” Swidler said.
Match said it expects to see some sort of decision related to those questions over the next 12 months or so.
The dating app maker and Tinder parent has been heavily involved in pursuing antitrust actions against the app stores, including both Apple and Google, having already provided testimony at Senate antitrust hearings, and engaging in other lawsuits, including one over Google’s Play Store fees. It’s also among the tech companies aiding the Justice Department’s antitrust investigation against Apple, along with Tile, Spotify, and others.
In the quarter, Match suffered an earnings miss with revenue of $787 million coming under estimates of $794 million, and paying users down 3% to 15.9 million. Net profit also fell to $120.8 million, down from $180.5 million in the year-ago quarter. However, Match said it was seeing signs of growth at Tinder after changes to marketing and product, but those weren’t yet realized in the financial results.
On Tinder, for example, it’s testing “Just for You,” a curated selection of high-quality profiles designed to appeal to women and referenced its recent updates to reporting features and its AI-powered selfie verification process.
The company also said it authorized a new $1 billion share buyback program and confirmed it would pull its apps from Russia, citing human rights concerns, a year after rival Bumble had announced the same.