Apple will soon announce policy changes under the Digital Markets Act in Europe, due in March. The DMA will force Apple to allow sideloading of iPhone apps in an effort to reduce Apple's monopoly control over software on iOS.
How exactly this will happen, however, remains in question. The Wall Street Journal believes it has inside information about Apple's plans. While the apps will be available outside of the App Store for the first time, the magazine reports that Apple still plans to charge fees and implement app review processes for downloaded apps.
It is unclear whether fees will be charged based on income, like fees for in-app purchases.
For external links to alternative payment systems in the US, Apple currently requires developers to pay a 27% fee, although many developers initially thought they could avoid Apple's 30% fee by not using an In-App Purchase.
Best comment by Chris (@[email protected])
I think all these changes the EU is making are really only benefiting the big developer companies like Spotify and Epic at the expense of the smaller developers. The EU is adding additional rules and requirements from Apple that smaller and indie developers will now have to comply with, which will act as a barrier to entry for some. This is bad for competition… which I think was ultimately the goal of Epic and Spotify.
View all comments
It's also unclear how Apple plans to review apps that aren't distributed through the App Store. But if the report is accurate, it undermines much of the anticompetitive restrictions originally contained in the DMA. Apple will still be at the helm, controlling what software runs on the iPhone and charging for each app.
Technically speaking, Apple can do almost anything it wants, but it remains to be seen whether it will Apple's implementation is acceptable to lawmakers.
The Digital Markets Act is somewhat vague on how so-called “gatekeeper” companies are allowed to comply with it. It is likely that the European Commission will introduce further requirements and enforcement measures after the March deadline. Thus, Apple may not be able to maintain its restrictive control indefinitely. (In the US, Epic Games is currently challenging Apple's 27% fee for alternative payment methods in court.)
Apple is expected to officially announce iOS 17.4 soon, which will include capabilities for sideloading apps in Europe. .