Apple is said to be working on opening up iPhones and iPads to third-party app stores – because the EU might demand it. Should that happen, a monopoly would collapse.
The usually excellently informed “Bloomberg” journalist Mark Gurman recently dropped a bomb: He claims to have learned from internal sources at Apple that the global company is preparing nothing but a software revolution – and that out of compulsion.
Apple should allow apps from alternative sources
Accordingly, Apple should prepare for the introduction of new EU regulations that will require operating system providers to allow the installation of software from third-party sources from 2024. This means that for the first time since the App Store was launched, customers with iOS devices can access software that does not come directly from the in-house marketplace without complicated detours.
Insisting on the app monopoly has repeatedly caused controversy in the past, but so far Apple has remained firm. So-called “jailbreaks” were particularly popular with users in the early years, bringing “Cydia”, probably the most well-known alternative app store, to iPhones and iPads. Apple always tried to prevent the implementation of a “jailbreak” with updates, for many years it was a cat and mouse game for hackers and the company.
Meanwhile, business customers went to court, because Epic Games in particular was bothered by the commissions that Apple demanded for sales via the App Store.
EU forces Apple to make changes
But it is not a US court that is apparently forcing Apple to rethink soon, but the EU Commission and the so-called “Digital Markets Act”. This “Act on Digital Services and Markets” requires the opening of the app store and even messengers and stipulates equal access for external developers to the core functions of the system.
Unlike the Google Android operating system, iOS has always relied on a closed ecosystem – others would call it a “golden cage”. There are different reasons for this – for Apple it means enormous revenue. Because the commissions in the App Store are very high with 15 to 30 percent revenue share.
Apple argues that this is for reliability and security. Because every app is checked before it is released, it is extremely rare for malware or fraudulent programs to find their way onto Apple users’ devices. This is also different with Android.
Opening with iOS 17 – under conditions
“Bloomberg” reports that Apple plans to open the doors of the system with iOS 17. It is likely that Apple will insist on a security check of external apps and will offer this service for a fee. As far as external payment services for in-app purchases or subscriptions booked via the App Store are concerned, nothing has been finally decided so far.
Apple seems to be vehemently opposed to plans to open the “iMessage” messenger. According to the report, it is not clear to what extent Apple is getting involved in this political intervention – if at all.
It is also unclear in which countries Apple bows to the will of the EU. Gurman reports that the group is currently planning to implement the far-reaching changes only in Europe – and to remain with the status quo in other markets until corresponding laws are passed there as well.
This is hardly surprising, because if an external app store provider succeeds in establishing itself on iOS, Apple could face billions in lost commissions.
Loss for Apple maybe relatively small
But maybe the loss is limited. Angelo Zino, stock analyst at CFRA, told “Reuters” that he expects less than 0.2 percent loss in sales. He stated: “The ultimate impact will be minimal as most consumers are creatures of habit and are very happy with the platform. We anticipate that the majority of consumers will stay with the status quo and use (Apple’s) existing app store. “
A statement by Epic, which became public as part of a lawsuit against Google, proves him right. The company stated that 90 percent of all downloads on Android go through the Google Play Store – even though Google has allowed so-called “sideloading”, i.e. the installation of apps from other sources, for years.