Apple to allow rival app stores on iPhones in EU
Apple will permit the use of alternative app stores on its devices sold in the EU starting in March.
Presently, iPhone users are restricted to downloading apps solely from Apple’s own App Store.
Apple has consistently argued that its regulations safeguard users’ security. However, it has faced accusations of monopolizing the market, leaving consumers and developers with no alternative but to adhere to its platforms and subjecting developers to commissions of up to 30%.
This policy has resulted in developers who either fail to meet Apple’s App Store criteria or choose not to pay its charges being marginalized from the millions of Apple device users.
The changes will not impact the UK for now, although the UK’s Digital Markets Bill, currently in progress in Parliament, is expected to subject Apple’s practices to comparable regulatory scrutiny.
Epic, renowned for its game Fortnite, famously removed its popular game from the App Store due to disagreements over Apple’s policies. Since 2020, it has not been accessible through the App Store, though it can be accessed via the web.
In principle, this development could enable European iPhone users to reinstall the Fortnite app through an alternative app marketplace.
This development coincides with the implementation of the EU’s Digital Markets Act, aimed at regulating major companies acting as gatekeepers to services like search engines and app stores, to foster a fairer market for both established and smaller companies.
Additionally, Apple announced plans to expand browser options, allowing EU users to opt out of using Apple’s Safari web browser from their initial use.
However, Apple cautioned that while it was setting rigorous standards for all new alternative apps and stores, it believed the move could expose customers to heightened security risks, potentially increasing the likelihood of encountering malware, fraud, and scams embedded within apps sourced from other platforms.
Apple stated, “The changes we’re announcing today comply with the Digital Markets Act’s requirements in the European Union while helping to protect EU users from the unavoidable increased privacy and security threats this regulation brings.”
The American tech giant markets premium-priced products, emphasizing the added security layer they provide.
Android apps can already come from a wider variety of stores. However, as a result, malware is far more common on Android devices than on Apple ones.
The purpose of both the new EU rules and UK proposals is to try to maintain open and competitive markets where lots of companies can successfully operate alongside each other.