In response to pending European laws, Apple is preparing to allow alternative app stores on its devices. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports:
Apple Inc. is preparing to allow alternative app stores on its iPhones and iPads, part of a sweeping overhaul aimed at complying with strict European Union requirements coming in 2024.
Software engineering and services employees are engaged in a major push to open up key elements of Apple’s platforms, according to people familiar with the efforts. As part of the changes, customers could ultimately download third-party software to their iPhones and iPads without using the company’s App Store, sidestepping Apple’s restrictions and the up-to-30% commission it imposes on payments.
The moves — a reversal of long-held policies — are a response to EU laws aimed at leveling the playing field for third-party developers and improving the digital lives of consumers. For years, regulators and software makers have complained that Apple and Google, which run the two biggest mobile app stores, wield too much power as gatekeepers. If similar laws are passed in additional countries, Apple’s project could lay the groundwork for other regions, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the work is private. But the company’s changes are designed initially to just go into effect in Europe.
Even so, the news bolstered shares of companies that offer dating services and other apps. Match Group Inc. jumped as much as 10% and Bumble Inc. was up as much as 8.6% — a sign investors think the companies could get a break from Apple’s commissions. Spotify Technology SA, the audio streaming service, climbed as much as 9.7%. Apple’s shares, meanwhile, were little changed. A spokesman for the Cupertino, California-based company declined to comment on the upcoming changes.
The main new European law, dubbed the Digital Markets Act, takes effect in the coming months, but companies aren’t required to comply with all of the rules until 2024. Government officials in the US and other countries have pushed for similar laws but haven’t gotten as far as the EU yet.