At this point, Apple just might have gotten “too big to comply.” In this case, with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) regulation, concerns the tech giant’s extremely lucrative App Store and its golden geese – those who publish there.
At least that’s what some of the staunchest critics from the industry itself, like Epic Games (whose opposition to Apple’s policies extended into an “epic” legal battle) – are saying now that Apple is seemingly starting to comply. And they are joined by other developers and non-profits from this space.
The disagreements between various regulators and Apple, but also Google, and the controversial, restrictive to the point of monopoly (or duopoly, if you like) way they run online stores for their operating systems has been going on for a long time.
Concerning Apple, the main difference is the refusal to let even a cent go “sideways” – i.e., to allow third-party stores, and “sideloading” of apps.
Developer David Heinemeier Hansson accused Apple of implementing an “extortion regime.”
The EU regulation is supposed to foster competition in the highly dominated, by Apple and Google in Europe and the US, developer/app market, so Apple finally announced that sideloading, alternative stores, and browser engines it does not produce, as well as game streamers, will be allowed starting in March.
Another sticking point has been the way app creators can monetize – and now Apple is saying that the App Store can be used along with alternative in-app payments.
So far so good, but observers are saying, that’s where the good news ends. Namely, apps will have to pay fees on alternative App Store downloads – developers who choose these third-party options are required to have a “€1,000,000 ‘letter of credit’ and pay €0.50 for each first annual app installation.”
“Malicious compliance” is what Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney says this amounts to.
“They are forcing developers to choose between App Store exclusivity and the store terms, which will be illegal under DMA, or accept a new also-illegal anti-competitive scheme rife with new junk fees on downloads and new Apple taxes on payments they don’t process,” he comprehensively slammed the new policy in a post on X.
Others are referring to this as “shakedown” and “extortion.”
What the European Union will have to say is yet to be seen, but in the meanwhile, Apple is clear:
“In order to establish adequate financial means to guarantee support for developers and customers, marketplace developers must provide Apple a stand-by letter of credit from an A-rated (or equivalent by S&P, Fitch, or Moody’s) financial Institution of €1,000,000 prior to receiving the entitlement. It will need to be auto-renewed on a yearly basis,” the company said.
And while developers want to be protected from Apple, Apple says it is protecting developers. From making money? Never – the juggernaut says. It’s from, “new avenues for malware, fraud, and scams, illicit and harmful content, and other privacy and security threats.”
If you're tired of censorship and dystopian threats against civil liberties, subscribe to Reclaim The Net.