Apple prepares for alternative app stores on the iPhone

Gail Davis is a British woman living in Orpington, a city in the London Borough of Bromley, who on January 22, 2011 received a call telling her that she had just won an award. “Thank you very much, I’m not interested,” she said before hanging up. But before she cut the communication she heard something about an application from Apple and its App Store.

At that moment, she remembered that her daughter had just downloaded a free game for her iPhone. She contacted Apple in case the call was from them, but they couldn’t put her through to Vice President Eddy Cue, who was the one who had called her to tell her that she had won a $10,000 prize in downloads at the Apple store for downloading the app. app number 10,000 million in the two and a half years it had been running. Luckily, Apple called her back. The app store is one of the new businesses of the 21st century.

The company alleges that the measure will open security gaps due to malware, as happens with Android

Apple has never allowed sideloading –this is the name in English for loading software on iPhone and iPad from alternative platforms–, but the entry into force of the European Union’s Digital Markets Law (DMA) since November 1 will promote the existence of stores of apps other than the one on the block. Apple’s main argument for opposing alternative stores to its own is security. The iPhone company thoroughly reviews all apps to verify that they do not pose risks to the privacy or security of the user.

Google exercises similar security controls in its Play store of Android apps. Both companies can sneak in some software that doesn’t follow the rules, but as soon as they discover it, they strike it down. On the other hand, the fact that applications can be downloaded from outside Play on Android favors the existence of a lot of malware that iPhone users cannot find. The Digital Markets Law will designate as of May 2023 the companies it considers gatekeepers (guardians of the gates), to which it will apply a series of requirements that allow smaller companies to compete with them. Once appointed, it will give them a 6-month period for allegations, so there will be no major changes until 2024.

The App Store on an iPhone

The App Store on an iPhone

F. Bracero

to be considered gatekeeper , a company must meet conditions, such as having an annual turnover in the EU of at least €7.5 billion in each of the last three financial years or an average market valuation of at least €75 billion in the last financial year, have 45 million monthly users established in the EU and at least 10,000 business users during the last three years. These are requirements designed to distinguish the giants of the digital sector and apply specific rules to them.

Apple charges commissions of 30% to 15% of the price of apps or subscriptions to apps that are installed from its store. The change of the DMA will lead to a new situation that is already contemplated in future versions of its next iOS 17 operating system, which will arrive towards the fall of 2023, according to what the agency has revealed. Bloomberg .

App Store icon on an iPhone

App Store icon on an iPhone

F. Bracero

Will that affect Apple’s business much? In the App Store there are more than 4.5 million applications, of which close to a million are games. 92.3% are free, although they may imply subsequent payments to obtain certain features or unlock options. The app market in the fiscal year of 2022 has only represented 2% of its income for Apple in the EU countries and the United Kingdom, which have reached 95,000 million dollars, so it does not seem that it will open downloads to third parties cause you a big problem.

On the other hand, many users will not want to leave the security zone offered by the company. Apple could ask the EU to allow it to supervise apps from other platforms in some way (and charge for it, of course), although the scenario that the WFD opens is uncertain. Starting in May, the new ecosystem of apps will begin to be defined, which creates an unprecedented situation. The user will have more freedom when it comes to downloading applications, but the paradox can also arise in that they must have several accounts on different platforms to keep the applications they already have.

The other forced changes

The first big change forced by the new European legislation – in addition to the DMA, the Digital Services Law is already in force – will be that of the iPhone connector, which is now its own and is called Lightning, by the USB-C standard. Apple was opposed to this imposition, considering that it would slow down innovation, since no one will investigate the creation of a better connector if the law establishes that it must be a specific one.
But more changes may come. One of the consequences of the law is that it could force Apple to open up to any third-party use of the wireless NFT sensor, now practically limited to payments with Apple Pay. The EU also wants to unify courier services. But this will be more difficult from a strictly technical point of view, because some depend on phone numbers (WhatsApp), others on accounts (iMessage), and even on devices (Signal). In addition, potential pitfalls can arise with encryption between the different applications.

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