Apple wants to allow external app stores, but UK users will have to wait

The aim of the EU’s Digital Markets Act is to prevent large platforms such as Apple, Google and Meta from abusing their market dominance. Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters

Apple (AAPL) is preparing to allow alternative app stores on its iPhones and iPads to meet European Union requirements coming into effect in 2024, but those in the UK will be stuck with Apple apps.

Under the EU’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA), the rules should allow users to install third-party apps on their iOS devices without using the App Store. In this case, Apple cannot calculate its commission of up to 30% on all payments.

The aim is to prevent large platform holders or so-called gatekeepers such as Apple, Google and Meta from abusing their dominant position.

The DMA takes effect from May, but the company has until 2024 to make changes to its ecosystem, Bloomberg first reported.

However, the rules only apply in Europe, with the UK showing no signs of enacting similar legislation.

Independent app developers are urging the EU to ensure that the needs of small app developers are not forgotten under the new rules.

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“It is paramount that implementation of the DMA allows Europeans to remain protected from malware and bad business practices,” said Mike Sax, Founder of the App Association.

“A drop in consumer confidence that apps are safe to install and buy might have negligible impact on trusted megabrands, but would be devastating for smaller app developers,” he added.

SME app developers, who contribute €210 billion to the EU economy every year, are demanding fair and non-discriminatory conditions for app stores from Brussels.

“Our members don’t have a portfolio of trusted brands or global distribution networks and infrastructure. If our apps are pirated or turned into malware, it harms us directly and can even pose an existential threat to our business,” said Sax.

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“We actually need platforms that spend millions on IP protection, global market access and customer privacy. For us, we need the “gate” in “Gatekeeper” to function and keep the fraudulent products out and help us reach customers in an environment they see as safer than the broader internet,” he added.

The European Union believes that strict regulation of large technology companies, the so-called gatekeepers of the digital economy, will lead to more competition and choice, more innovation, better quality and lower prices.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has confirmed the government will introduce new legislation to protect consumers from fake reviews and subscription protections, and give the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) new powers to deal with anti-competitive practices in digital markets. However, little to nothing is known about the limitations of big tech’s power over the internet.

Regard: The EU’s Digital Markets Act: what is it and what does the new law mean for you and Big Tech?

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