Apple is finally opening up the iPhone to sideloading and alternative app stores – at least in the EU. It is also allowing developers to use third-party payment processors in their apps. This is all part of Apple’s efforts to comply with the EU’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA), and on the surface, these changes seem as if Apple is bowing to regulatory pressure.
But some developers are already responding with criticism about Apple’s new guidelines. Epic Games CEO (and part-time Apple critic) Tim Sweeney in particular called the changes “hot trash”, even as Epic announced it would launch its own App Store through them. That’s because Apple’s new business terms come with some big disadvantages — especially for larger developers. While the new rules will reduce the commission charged by Apple, it will add a new €0.50 (~54 cents USD) core technology fee for apps with more than 1 million downloads. For successful apps, these fees increase.
Nikita Bear, founder of the Gas app, which has since been acquired by Discord, used Apple’s fee calculator to show how much Apple would charge from apps subject to the Core Technology fee. In a post on This adds up to payments to Apple of about $6.2 million per year – compared to $250,000 per month or about $3 million per year under the current terms.
“This poison pill is clearly designed to ensure that no second-party app stores ever close.”
Additionally, critics say Apple would need a €1,000,000 letter of credit from an “A-rated” financial institution to establish an alternative App Store in the EU.
David Heinemeyer Hanson, creator of Ruby on Rails and co-founder of Basecamp, says the new guidelines will discourage developers of big apps like Meta from using alternative app stores. “This poison pill is therefore clearly designed to ensure that no second-party app stores ever close,” Heinemeier Hansson writes in a post on his blog. “Without any big apps, there will be no draw, and there will be no stores. All EU efforts to create competition in digital markets will be futile.”
The Coalition for App Fairness, a nonprofit run by Epic and focused on promoting mobile app competition, had a similar response. Executive Director Rick VanMeter said the plan “does not achieve the DMA’s goal of increasing competition and fairness in the digital marketplace – it is not fair, reasonable or non-discriminatory,” adding that the changes would allow developers to create “two anti-competitive practices.” “Forces you to choose between and.” Invalid option. Either stick with the terrible status quo or adopt new complex terms that are bad for developers and consumers alike.
Other developers are also skeptical about the new changes. Tapbots co-founder Paul Haddad explains the verge That “any reduction in the extremely high commissions charged by Apple is a benefit to developers.” However, Haddad also noted that Apple’s core technology fee is “likely impractical” for freemium apps as well as apps that offer demos. Haddad says, “I’m not interested in taking the risk of losing money on each app install/update just to save a little money on the people who actually subscribe to our app.”
Meanwhile, developer and author Maximiliano Fertman explains the verge The new policy is that “Apple is using as many dirty tricks as possible to force developers to stick with the existing terms and not take advantage of the new terms, which is in addition to the money Apple collects through installation fees (each Store Will impose on).” The App Store will not be involved in any process even if your app’s revenue. Furtman also points out that Apple will “still have control” over apps through its iOS notarization feature, which vets each app on alternative app stores, and can also dictate what alternative app stores and web browsers do. Can and what not.
The potential harms of Apple’s new guidelines aren’t stopping everyone from adopting them. AltStore, an app store that lets users sideload apps on iOS, is already planning to officially launch its app store in the EU. AltStore developer Riley Testutt explains the verge It is working towards meeting Apple’s requirements so that it can allow users to download AltStore directly from their website. Testut says developers will be able to publish their apps on AltStore for free, and they’ve added “deeper Patreon integration so developers will be able to distribute Patreon-exclusive apps only to their patrons.” AltStore does not plan to charge any commission on Patreon-exclusive apps.
“Overall, I consider it a positive for the platform,” says Testut. “For the first time, entirely new categories of apps can exist on iOS, which I believe will propel the platform forward.”
As far as the letter of credit of €1,000,000 is concerned, Testut states the verge This is a “reasonable” request from Apple. “While this raises the barrier to entry substantially, I learned firsthand that running an alternative market comes with a strong responsibility to protect users,” says Testut. “Requiring proof of credit ensures that the marketplaces are at least legitimate businesses, reducing the risk of ‘scam’ marketplaces taking everyone’s money and leaving.”
It will take some time to see if other developers and alternative app stores choose to go along with Apple’s new rules. But perhaps one of the biggest hurdles Apple may face in the coming days is whether the EU Commission will actually approve the company’s changes. The Commission will begin evaluating companies’ responses when the DMA comes into force on March 7, and Commissioner Thierry Breton has already warned: “If the proposed solutions are not good enough, we will not hesitate to take stronger action.”