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Apple to allow outside app stores by 2024 in seismic shift – report

Apple will allow third-party app stores to set up shop within its various software platforms in order to comply with incoming European Union legislation, according to a new report.

The change, sources say, will mean the era of Apple taking a 30% cut of most purchases from the App Store will come to an end – at least in Europe.

People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman that plans have been hatched to allow alternate storefronts into the ecosystem, for the first time ever and in time to comply with the new EU digital market laws.

The report describes the efforts undergoing at Apple as a “major push to open up key elements of Apple’s platforms” and says the result could enable “customers could ultimately download third-party software to their iPhones and iPads without using the company’s App Store” by the time iOS 17 arrives next autumn. The result is also likely to see alternate payment methods arrive within existing apps and games, meaning developers could bypass Apple’s commission.

Until now Apple has staunchly resisted all efforts to open up the App Store as a platform, citing user security and the overriding usability of the platform. Apple has responded to calls by saying the absence of its vetting process and oversight could lead to unsafe apps ending-up on user devices.

It’s not clear whether Apple’s plans involve opening up to third-party stores in other parts of the world, but it would be surprising if that weren’t the case as Apple doesn’t tend to fragment its approach per market.

The move comes after the passage of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) in June, which aim to wrangle the dominance of the tech giants, and is designed to ensure greater interoperability and the end to the walled garden Apple has presided over with its longstanding App Store model. Part of the legislation also calls for Apple to open up platforms like its iMessage service.

Both Apple and Google went to war with Epic Games over back in 2020 over the presence of an independent purchasing stores within Fortnite.

Apple making the changes would likely avoid further action from the European Union, which is considering antitrust action in light of its new rules.

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