Friday, February 23, 2024

Report: Sideloading in Europe Will Still Involve App Review and Fees


Developers who offer the ability to sideload their apps in the European Union will still face restrictions and fees imposed by Apple, The Wall Street Journal reports.

App sideloading capabilities will allow users to download apps from outside the App Store for the first time, but only in the EU. The change is necessitated by the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which seeks to reign in the apparent anticompetitive conduct of big tech companies.

Apple reportedly plans to comply with EU law in a way that retains close control over the apps downloaded outside the ‌App Store‌. Apple has not yet revealed its final plans to comply with this aspect of the DMA, but the WSJ today provided new details citing people familiar with the company’s plans. Specifically, Apple will apparently retain the ability to review each app offered outside the app store, as well as take a fee from developers that offer them.

Exact details of the fee structure are unknown, but Apple charges a 27% commission on in-app purchases made through alternative payment systems in the Netherlands, a capability that was initially triggered by a Dutch regulatory ruling. This is just three percent lower than its default fee, but unlike Apple’s commission, it does not include tax, making the net total more than Apple’s fee for most developers.

Apple has reportedly been working on the plan for offering sideloading for over a year and the company has held meetings with EU officials in recent months to discuss the new rules. The deadline to enact the changes is Thursday, March 7.

Companies are already said to be lining up to take advantage of the impending changes. For example, Spotify is mulling offering its app via its website to skirt the ‌App Store‌, Microsoft has considered launching its own third-party app store specifically for games, and Meta is planning to launch a system to download apps directly from ads.Tags: The Wall Street Journal, European Union
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