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Europe Forces Apple to Open iOS for Third-party App Stores in Europe from 2022

The European Parliament has passed two new laws on digital services and digital markets. Their goal is to frame the application market in smartphones and tablets, both on iOS and Android. One of the consequences would be the obligation for Apple to allow other application stores to appear on the iPhone. Both texts are yet to be voted on by the European Council for implementation in 2022.

One of the major differences between an iPhone and an Android smartphone is the impression of freedom the latter offers. On Apple terminals, you are relatively limited. If you want to install an application, it must be available in the App Store, otherwise, it is not worth trying. On Android, it is enough to activate a simple authorization. Moreover, alternative shops are allowed: Amazon App Store, AppGallery, Samsung Galaxy Store, etc.

Apple does not want alternative offers. Whether in the App Store or on payment methods. We saw it well during the Fortnite affair. To defend this position, the Cupertino company explains that it would not be able to secure users’ personal and banking information without control over all links in the value chain, And up to a point, it’s true: by preventing the installation of banned elements, Apple also prevents malware from entering. But it also has a backlash: Apple charges developers a lot of money to provide that trust and that security. This is the “Apple Tax”.

Europe forces Apple to open up iOS to alternative App Stores

Today, nothing obliges Apple to open up its ecosystem to external sources of applications and services. But it can happen very quickly. Indeed, the European Parliament this week passed two key texts that were discussed in the spring of 2022: digital services legislation and digital markets legislation. They will strive to create a legislative framework for all issues related to the app economy.

The first focuses on consumer rights and the second focuses on the fairness and openness of application-related markets. These texts state what large groups can and cannot do. For example, they have to give access to a concurrency. And they abstain “from looking after their own interests”. Margrethe Vestager, the famous European commissioner who has repeatedly fined GAFAM, even specifies that these companies “will have to share their data with other companies and allow more application stores”.

The tone is set. It remains to be seen whether the Commissioner here is not opening Pandora’s box to more freedom, but also to a more complex, more dangerous, less serene market. The adoption of the two pieces of legislation is just one step. The next one is final approval by the European Parliament then publication in the Official Gazette before implementation 20 days later, or before the end of 2022.