It’s a revolution for Apple. According to information obtained by Bloomberg, the company is preparing to authorize the installation of alternative application stores on the iPhone, in addition to its App Store. An opening to competition obtained with forceps by the European Union and its Digital Markets Act.
The (forced) opening of Apple to competition
Scheduled to arrive with iOS 17, this paradigm shift could allow all iPhone owners to install apps without having to go through the App Store and potentially without having to pay the 30% commission to Apple. Apple’s mobile operating system would therefore be closer to Android, which has allowed the installation of applications from third-party sources for a long time now. Concretely, one can imagine a system similar to the one that Apple has implemented on its Macs: a situation where Apple validates and facilitates the installation of Apps from its App Store, while leaving the most intrepid Internet users the possibility of install software obtained from the web (provided you have authorized such manipulation).
The opening of Apple’s mobile ecosystem, which the brand is reluctant to implement according to Bloomberg, would be due to the entry into force of the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the European directive which tends to reduce the monopolistic practices of GAFAM. The DMA effectively forces mobile OS to be more open to competition, otherwise fines ranging from 6 to 20% of global turnover could be imposed. For 2021, Apple’s annual revenue is $394.3 billion.
A profound change for iOS
To take the measure of the change that would be in preparation, you should know that Apple has been fighting since almost the release of its first iPhone to maintain total control over the software ecosystem of its iPhones. This has earned the company high-profile lawsuits like the one against Epic Games or Spotify. The company has often raised issues of security, simplicity or protection of privacy to avoid having to open its OS to competition.
It must be said that the commission that goes with the App Store pays off big for the company. In 2021, Apple’s store would have generated at least $60 billion. Seeing part of this financial windfall escape the company by allowing the installation of third-party application stores therefore has everything to displease the company. As reminded Bloomberg that said, the App Store is only responsible for 6% of Apple’s overall revenue and Europe accounts for only 2% of that 6%. Not enough to create a gaping cash hole.
Web browsers, NFC and other affected features
The opening to competition of iOS would also not stop at the App Store alone. Apple is also said to be working on opening up certain iPhone features to third-party developers, including the use of the NFC antenna which has earned it a lawsuit in Europe. Apple could also authorize the use of third-party solutions on some of its applications, such as a potential opening of the Find My network to beacons from the manufacturer Tile. Finally, the obligation to use the WebKit rendering engine for all iOS browsers could also be lifted.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, Apple has little choice but to open up its mobile ecosystem to competition. But this profound change in the philosophy of the brand does not only make people happy internally. Some officials believe this is a distraction from the “development of future featuresApple has already bowed to the European Single Charger Directive once and there is no doubt that this new obligation must also raise some eyebrows.