Apple Considering Allowing Use of Other App Stores in Europe

App Store

Apple is reportedly preparing to allow other app stores to access its devices in Europe.

The effort comes in response to European Union (EU) rules that are to take effect in 2024, and it could serve as a test run for a similar change to its iPhones and iPads in other countries, should the need arise, Bloomberg reported Tuesday (Dec. 13).

This would change Apple’s long-standing policy of allowing apps only from its own App Store and would allow users of its devices to download third-party apps, avoid Apple’s restrictions and bypass the commission it charges on payments, according to the report.

The EU laws — particularly the Digital Markets Act — are aimed at boosting the competitiveness of third-party app developers and allowing greater choice to consumers, the report said.

The rules, which apply to technology companies of a certain size, also require that outside developers be able to access core features, per the report.

Apple has long opposed rules like these, saying that third-party apps delivered from outside its App Store could put users’ privacy at risk, according to the report.

The firm hasn’t decided whether to comply with the Digital Markets Act’s requirement that tech companies allow third-party payment systems within apps, the report said.

It is, however, working on opening up its application programming interfaces (APIs), camera technologies and near-field communications (NFC) chip to third-party apps. The latter would enable other companies’ mobile wallets on the devices, per the report.

Apple did not immediately reply to PYMNTS’ request for comment.

As PYMNTS reported July 6, the Digital Markets Act sets obligations for large online platforms acting as “gatekeepers” (platforms whose dominant online position make them hard for consumers to avoid) on the digital market to ensure a fairer business environment and more services for consumers.

In July, another tech giant, Google, commented on the passing of the Digital Markets Act and said that as part of its efforts to comply with the new rules, it was announcing a new program to support billing alternatives for users in the European Economic Area (EEA).

This will mean that developers of non-gaming apps can offer their users in the EEA an alternative to Google Play’s billing system when they are paying for digital content and services.

In October, Reuters reported that the EU aims to build a team comprised of 40 people to enforce the Digital Markets Act rules as well as a chief technology officer dedicated to helping enforce the rules.