As Europe gears up for enforcing new tech regulations, Apple is strategizing for a future where sideloading, allowing users to download apps from sources outside the App Store, will be required. While Apple has not disclosed the specifics of its sideloading process, recent reports from The Wall Street Journal suggest that the tech giant intends to collect fees from developers offering downloads outside the App Store. This move aligns with Apple’s recent adjustment to its US App Store policies, which now permit in-app purchases bypassing the App Store’s billing system.
Sideloading Limited to EU iOS Users
According to the reports, sideloading will be limited to iOS users within the European Union to comply with the Digital Markets Act set to take effect on March 7. Despite Apple’s plan not being finalized, this approach mirrors the recent changes in the US App Store, where developers are now allowed to incorporate in-app purchases outside the App Store’s billing system but are subject to a significant 27% commission on such transactions (with smaller developers facing a 12% commission).
Potential Criticism and App Developer Reactions
Apple’s move to charge developers for sideloading may trigger criticism similar to the backlash faced after the US App Store policy changes. The updated tech regulations also grant Apple the authority to audit developers’ records to ensure compliance. This development has drawn criticism from major players like Epic Games and Spotify, both vocal opponents of the App Store’s restrictive rules and fees.
Digital Markets Act Enforcement and Industry Readiness
The Digital Markets Act is poised to be enforced soon, and Apple, despite not revealing its full compliance plan, is already under scrutiny from companies that have previously clashed with Cupertino over its app store policies. Spotify, a longstanding critic of the App Store’s commission structure, has provided a glimpse of the European version of its app, showcasing how users can pay for subscriptions and audiobooks directly within the app.
Meta’s Response and “Project Neon”
In response to Apple’s policies, Meta, another prominent critic, is reportedly working on “Project Neon.” This internal initiative aims to distribute developers’ apps via Facebook ads, presenting a potential avenue for Meta to compete more directly with the App Store, especially in the European market.
As the tech landscape undergoes regulatory transformations, Apple’s strategies, including potential fees for sideloading, will undoubtedly impact app developers and draw reactions from industry players critical of the company’s policies. Stakeholders in the tech and app development sectors will closely monitor the unfolding developments surrounding the Digital Markets Act enforcement.