Apple will soon announce policy changes to comply with the Digital Markets Act in Europe, which is set to expire in March. The DMA will force Apple to allow third-party app downloads on iPhones to reduce the company’s monopoly control over iOS software.
However, exactly how this will be accomplished remains in question. The Wall Street Journal believes it understands Apple’s plan. And it consists of still retaining control over the apps and the platform. According to circumstantial reports, Apple is still going to vet and approve all third-party downloads and charge for purchases in them.
No one knows how this will be implemented, but apparently only apps signed with an Apple key will be able to be installed. By the key it will be possible to install the developer and demand money from him. Apparently, as in the case of third-party payment, they will ask for about 27%.
If the description is accurate, Apple is obviously undermining much of the anti-competitive restrictions originally envisioned by the DMA. Apple will still be in the driver’s seat, controlling what software is installed on the iPhone and charging for each app.
The Digital Markets Act is somewhat vague on how so-called “gatekeepers” must comply. It’s likely that the European Commission will impose additional requirements and enforcement measures after the March deadline. Thus, Apple may not be able to maintain its restrictive controls indefinitely. In the US, Epic Games is currently appealing Apple’s 27% fee requirement for alternative payment methods in court.
Apple is expected to officially announce iOS 17.4 soon, which will include third-party app download capabilities in Europe. Meanwhile, companies are already lining up to take advantage of the upcoming changes. Spotify, for example, is looking to offer its app through its website to bypass the App Store, Microsoft is considering launching its own third-party app store specifically for games, and Meta* plans to launch an app download system directly from ads.
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