Apple has been instructed by European regulators to open up its devices to competing app stores and payment alternatives after 15 years of dictating how apps are distributed on iPhones. The new law aims to give consumers and developers more choice, but app makers argue that Apple’s response to the law is a false choice. They claim that the new fees and rules make it prohibitively expensive and risky to implement the changes that the law was designed to bring about.
Apple claims that it must maintain a tight grip on the App Store to ensure quality and safety, while many developers accuse the company of abusing its power to squeeze them for fees and stifle competition to its own services. The Digital Markets Act requires Apple to give app makers alternatives for selling to iPhone and iPad users. In response, Apple told developers that they essentially had three options in the European Union, including sticking with the current App Store system, reducing their commission to 17 percent, or distributing through a competing app store while still paying Apple’s download fee.
However, many developers argue that Apple’s proposal is a worse alternative, as it includes new fees that make it financially prohibitive, essentially forcing them to stick with the existing App Store model. The mounting criticism will test how aggressively the European Union will enforce its new digital policy.
The U.S. Justice Department is also considering antitrust charges against Apple for uncompetitive business practices, and the company is facing slowing sales of its devices. Apple’s new system could upend many developers’ business models, as it includes terms that prevent developers from reversing their decisions.
The European Commission has urged large tech platforms, including Apple, to review any changes they plan to make to comply with the Digital Markets Act with the businesses that are likely to be most affected. However, some developers feel that Apple’s new policy is a false alternative to the existing App Store fee structure, and that it is financially prohibitive.