Chairman and Chief Editor
Bedour Ibrahim

Apple didn’t make these moves voluntarily

Apple opens up iPhone app store in Europe، a major crack in its ‘walled garden’

Thursday 25/January/2024 - 09:29 PM
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Apple announced plans to open up its iPhone App Store in Europe to competitors on Thursday، a move that opens up cracks in the company’s famous “walled garden،” with which it controls app distribution on its devices.

Apple didn’t make these moves voluntarily — the changes were required by a new European law، the Digital Markets Act، which forces big tech companies to open up their platforms by March of this year.

The new rules could threaten Apple’s lucrative App Store fees، especially if developers such as Spotify and Microsoft take advantage of the new regulations that allow it to bypass Apple’s 30% fee on in-app purchases and move to release their own competing app stores for iPhone.

But Apple also announced a new fee structure in Europe that includes an annual charge per installation for popular apps that don’t use Apple’s App Store، raising the possibility that many big developers will end up paying a similar amount to Apple even if they take advantage of the new capabilities.

Regulations put users at risk

Apple said on Thursday that it believes the new regulation puts its users at risk for scams، fraud and abuse، because apps that don’t go through Apple’s App Store aren’t reviewed for content and could contain malware. It also warned that some new browser apps using an “engine” not made by Apple، enabled by the DMA، could hurt user battery life.

Developers in general are likely to celebrate، as many have chafed for years over Apple’s fees and rigorous App Review program that frequently rejects app updates. While regulators around the world have aimed to make Apple open up its platforms، Thursday’s changes are the most drastic so far and can provide a preview of what could happen if the U.S. were to implement similar regulations.

The changes are restricted to Europe and accounts that are registered in the E.U.، rather than changes to the way iPhone app distribution works in the U.S. The changes will go live in an iOS software update in March.

“Developers can now learn about the new tools and terms available for alternative app distribution and alternative payment processing، new capabilities for alternative browser engines and contactless payments، and more،” said Apple App Store boss Phil Schiller in a statement.