Apple Might Finally Allow Third-Party App Stores

According to a Bloomberg report, Apple might finally let developers launch third-party application stores on iOS devices with iOS 17. The decision comes as the tech giant faces growing pressure from antitrust regulators worldwide. But the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) seemingly put the final nail in the coffin. Here’s everything you need to know about Apple finally allowing third-party app stores. 

The DMA could break Apple’s tight grip on third-party app and payment systems.

Apple’s practices regarding the App Store drew the ire of many tech firms, especially the crypto and NFT communities. In 2021, Fortnite creator Epic Games launched a lawsuit against Apple over a dispute regarding in-app purchases. Apple takes a 30% cut of all purchases made through the App Store, including those made in third-party apps. Epic Games eventually removed Fortnite from iOS devices over the pay dispute, leading to the lawsuit. The suit recently returned to the courtroom after both parties appealed the decision. 

The EU already forced Apple to remove its proprietary lightning charging port in favor of the universal USB-C come 2024. Antitrust regulators in Europe have steadily dismantled Apple’s iron fist over its digital ecosystem, and the DMA is just the latest blow. The Open Apps Markets Act, introduced in August 2021, would similarly allow third-party payments in the United States. The DMA has renewed calls for the Open Markets Act across the pond in the US. Especially by one Epic Games CEO, Tim Sweeney.

Apple says its App Store rules are to protect users from malware.

At the Web Summit 2021 conference, Apple’s head of software engineering, Craig Federighi, said the company’s policy protects users. Earlier that year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the DMA would dismantle the security iOS that users enjoy. Allowing sideloaded app stores could potentially introduce malware to the iOS ecosystem. However, Apple already allows third-party payment systems in specific markets such as the Netherlands and South Korea.

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