Will Apple soon have to allow more app stores on the iPhone?

Apple regulates which apps users can install on the iPhone via the App Store. A new law in the U.S. is intended to wrest this control away from the company.

Developers of the two largest mobile operating systems, Apple and Google, face growing political pressure. The companies’ Apple App Store and Google Play Store give them control over which apps users can install on devices.

Politicians want to wrest app store monopoly from Apple

Both Apple and Google charge app developers a fee for using the app store as a sales platform. In the past, the fee has been 30 percent of revenue. But in the face of political pressure and several court cases (including one against game developer Epic Games), that has since changed. Now, developers with less revenue, for example, only have to give up 15 percent to Apple and Google.

A new bill would see Apple and Google lose control of their app stores. So-called “sideloading” would allow users to install apps from other sources. These sources can be not only other, alternative app stores, but also, for example, an online app database. It should also be possible for developers to sell their apps via alternative payment processing systems. Thus, they would no longer be affected by the payment fee that Apple and Google charge for having an app for sale in their app stores.

Vor allem Apple wäre von einem solchen Gesetz betroffen, da es bislang keine anderen Sources als den eigenen App Store zulässt. Google erlaubt schon seit Einführung des Play Stores (früher Marektplace) die Installation von Apps aus anderen Stores oder dem Internet – auf eigene Gefahr. Beide müssten zudem Umsatzeinbußen befürchten, wenn Entwickler ihre Apps über andere Zahlungsverfahren als das des Apple App Stores und Google Play Stores verwenden können.

Also interesting: How to install Android apps without Google’s Play Store

Senate committee confirms bill

Supporters of the bill argue that Apple and Google are driving up prices for consumers through the unrivaled dominance of their app stores and high fees. Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn commented that “guardrails need to be in place” for “big tech” (large technology companies).

But the Open App Market Act aims to force companies to go even one step further. The bill was introduced by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar (Democrats), and U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (Republicans). On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill.

Apple warns against undermining the App Store

In einem offenen Brief an den Senat warnt Apple jedoch vor den Auswirkungen, die die Umsetzung des Entwurfs in geltendes Rechte haben könnte. “Sideloading” von Apps aus anderen Sources als dem Apple App Store würde alle Sicherheitsvorkehrungen aushebeln, mit denen das Unternehmen sonst die Nutzer schützt.

In the letter, Tim Powderly, Apple’s head of government affairs, wrote: “Sideloading would allow malicious actors to circumvent Apple’s privacy and security protections by developing apps without critical control of the Privacy and security expel. The rules would allow the spread of malware, fraud and data theft.”

Sources

  • Reuters: Apple urges lawmakers say no to app store bill
  • Bloomberg: Apple Urges Senate to Reject a Bill That Allows Outside App Stores.
  • Bloomberg: Apple’s App Store Likely to Survive U.S. Bills Aimed At Upending It
  • CNBC: Senate committee advances bill targeting Google and Apple’s app store profitability