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Post: Apple gets ready for app sideloading in Europe



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As its battles with regulators intensify, Apple is getting ready to allow sideloading of software from third-party app stores in Europe, based on information in statements buried within the company’s most recent financial filing.

“The company expects to make further business changes in the future, including as a result of legislative initiatives impacting the App Store,” says Apple, “such as the European Union (“EU”) Digital Markets Act, which the Company is required to comply with by March 2024.”

Europe’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) limits what the biggest tech firms such as Apple can get away with by setting out a series of obligations they must meet. Among other provisions, it will require Apple to open up the App Store to rivals.

Some you win, some you don’t win

Apple has argued passionately (with white papers and supporting evidence) against these proposals, warning they will impact the security of iPhone and iPad customers; its latest statement suggests it has now conceded the point. That implies that it might begin to open up its platforms for third-party sideloading beginning next March, though the manner and schedule on which it will do so remains opaque.

Under the DMA, Apple could eventually also be forced to:

  • Open up to payments from third-party services.
  • Open up its messaging apps.
  • Be forbidden from shipping apps preloaded.
  • Make some of these changes by March 2024, with others on a longer schedule.

Apple’s filing concedes that it might have to make other changes to bring its business into line with the DMA and the global wave of litigation and investigations relating to the App Store. It says it has already applied changes to its business practices to meet regulatory demands, including in how developers tell consumers about alternative purchasing mechanisms.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

Lora Helmin

Lora Helmin

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