Apple Isn’t Ready to Release Its Grip on the App Store

[…] For the first time, new EU rules have forced the company to entertain the idea that you can shop for apps outside of Apple’s own App Store, as well as allow browsers other than Apple’s own Safari to run on iOS with their full suite of features.

Yet critics say those changes, although drastic, do not go far enough to comply with new EU rules, and a new fee system for developers reveals how Apple is not yet ready to release its grip on the App Store.

“The new fees and restrictions simply reinforce Apple’s hold over its ecosystem,” Andy Yen, founder and CEO of Swiss encrypted email and VPN provider, Proton, said in response to the changes.


The European Union’s solution was a law called the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The idea wasn’t to break up Big Tech, former French digital minister Cédric O explained in a press conference in 2022. Instead the law was designed to break these platforms open.

On January 25, the EU seemed like it was finally starting to succeed in that mission, when Apple shared the first details of how the residents of the EU’s 27 member states will soon be able to download apps from alternative app stores onto their iPhones and iPads. Developers will also be able to use third-party payment providers inside apps offered by the Apple App Store for free, and will pay a reduced commission of up to 17 percent for in-app goods and services, the company said.


Apple made it clear the company will maintain an element of control over the apps and new app stores operating on its devices—arguing this was necessary to reduce “privacy and security risks.” Apple said it will use a new system to track alternative app stores and payment systems, while charging developers a €0.50 ($0.54) “core technology fee” for every download—made through Apple’s App Store or an alternative—once an app is downloaded more than one million times.

“Especially for the big app developers with loads of downloads, who are the ones that really Apple make all their money from, that will rack up to a very high cost very quickly,” says Max von Thun, Europe director at Open Markets, a group dedicated to campaigning against monopolies.


The caveats sparked outrage from developers that had been hoping to benefit from DMA-inspired changes. “Allowing alternative payments and marketplaces seems positive on the surface, but the strings attached to Apple’s new policies mean that in practice it will be impossible for developers to benefit from them,” Proton’s Yen said in a statement. “Apple will continue stifling competition and innovation, and taking a cut even when developers opt out of its walled garden.”

Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games, went further, accusing Apple on X of “twisting this process to undermine competition and continue imposing Apple taxes on transactions they’re not involved in.”


With just a matter of weeks until the EU’s March deadline, Apple and developers alike will soon find out whether the EU thinks those changes have gone far enough.

Source: Apple Isn’t Ready to Release Its Grip on the App Store | WIRED

Robin Edgar

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