Yesterday, Apple released a significant press statement. It was large, complex, and far-reaching, especially for people in the EU.
The press release details Apple's steps to comply with the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA).
We will use our experience in the iOS ecosystem and our background in building apps for a wide range of businesses to distill the details and provide opinions on what all these various changes mean.
Apple's full release) is on their website.
The changes affect several features offered by Apple, specifically:
- They will allow developers to offer alternative app stores and enable developers to place their apps in these alternative stores.
- They will permit the use of alternative web browsers and, more importantly, alternative web engines.
- They will open up the possibility for more detailed access to hardware components on devices.
- They will allow developers to offer alternative forms of payment (besides in-app payment) in their apps, including the ability to link out to an alternative payment journey.
- They will enable third-party apps to offer tap-to-pay facilities.
In addition to these changes, Apple has implemented:
- Extra protections necessary for apps to be signed for use in other stores.
- New business terms for app developers in the EU.
- Changes to payment processing fees.
There's a lot to digest, so we're planning a series of posts. We'll try to keep it simple and add our thoughts.
Here's our initial overall impression:
It's big. This is clearly a compliance strategy. Apple recognizes that the EU is a significant market, and they've come under fire from some of their biggest app developers for the margins they take, particularly for in-app purchases. EPIC Games filed a lawsuit, and Spotify has publicly criticized Apple's approach for many years. Amazon too has had to provide cumbersome workarounds to avoid surrendering large margins. If you have an Audible account, you're likely aware of the difficulty of topping up outside the app and spending your credits inside the app.
Microsoft endured years of litigation in the 90s that nearly led to them being forced to break up—a fate they eventually successfully appealed, but not without spending years and a fortune. Apple has evidently decided to invest in compliance rather than confront the EU.
To some extent, there's a tone of "we're doing this against our better judgement." The press release maintains that by owning the App Store and managing the curation process, users are protected against malware and objectionable content. Most would agree with this – there's very little objectionable content in the store, and malware, if it does occur, is quickly addressed. The same cannot be said of other app stores.
Stay tuned as we go through each of the changes.
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