Apple defends its controversial EU App Store plans

Posted:
in iOS

Responding to accusations that it has made minimal effort to allow third-party App Stores in EU, Apple says it focused expressly on complying with the region's new laws while protecting users security.

App Store logo
App Store logo



In January 2024, in response to the European Union's Digital Markets Act requiring firms such as Apple to allow third-party alternative app stores, Apple announced a wide-ranging plan for developers in the region. It has been widely criticized by rival firms, with Spotify calling the new terms "extortion," and Epic Games saying it was "malicious compliance."

Following news that Meta and Microsoft are lobbying the EU with the accusation that Apple is failing to comply with the new laws, an Apple spokesperson told AppleInsider that it had spent a year working with the European Commission, and in complying with every requirement, also worked to add security safeguards for users.

The statement does not specifically address accusations of its proposals being "very prohibitive," as Microsoft called them. However, in stressing that it worked with the European Commission, Apple is making a case that accusations of it failing to comply with the new law cannot be correct.

Apple's statement to us in full:

Apple's approach to the Digital Markets Act was guided by two simple goals: complying with the law and reducing the inevitable, increased risks the DMA creates for our EU users.

First, that meant studying the Digital Markets Act to figure out how iOS, Safari, and the App Store could best meet its requirements. Teams at Apple spent months in conversation with the European Commission -- and in little more than a year, created more than 600 new APIs and a wide range of developer tools. Those changes reflect the work of hundreds of Apple team members who spent tens of thousands of hours creating the new capabilities necessary to comply with the DMA.

For every change, teams at Apple continued to put our users at the center of everything we do. That meant creating safeguards to protect EU users to the greatest extent possible and to respond to new threats, including new vectors for malware and viruses, opportunities for scams and fraud, and challenges to ensuring apps are functional on Apple's platforms. Still, these protections don't eliminate new threats the DMA creates.

Apple's focus remains on creating the most secure system possible within the DMA's requirements. But even with these safeguards in place, many risks remain -- and in the EU, the DMA's changes will result in a less secure system.

We're limiting these changes to the European Union because we're concerned about their impacts on the privacy and security of our users' experience -- which remains our North Star. These changes comply with the DMA, and in the weeks and months ahead, we'll continue to engage with the European Commission, the developer community, and our EU users about their impacts.



Apple's changes to the EU App Store are due to go live on March 7, 2024. After that date, the company can be investigated by the EU for non-compliance and, potentially, fined 10% of total worldwide turnover.



Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,661member
    Now, the waiting game to see if the EU thinks it really complies. 

    Personally, I don't think it does. We'll see. 

    muthuk_vanalingamPauloSeraa9secondkox2
  • Reply 2 of 26
    I think more countries need to act, probably Japan and maybe even US is next ...
    PauloSeraawilliamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 26
    xyzzy-xxx said:
    I think more countries need to act, probably Japan and maybe even US is next ...
    DOA in the United States. Legislators were generally unconvinced by the market cap approach, i.e., why have double-standards for what is called "anticompetitive"? 
    9secondkox2watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 26
    They basically don't want to contribute to Apple R&D and profits. After profit, Apple essentially uses the device revenue to fund hardware R&D and the App Store revenue to fund R&D for the operating system and built-in apps. I doubt Apple will return to paying for operating systems, so the cost needs to be factored in somewhere. 

    I can see where makers of free apps, freemium apps, and one-time-purchase apps might think the alternative stores are not fair for them. The marketplace rules certainly seem more geared to apps with subscription revenue. However, they are not complaining about that, they just don't want to pay Apple anything and that will never happen. 

    I don't think Apple's store is a bad deal for most types of apps. My criticism over the years has always been that some store restrictions go too far in the name of protecting the platform, there is no way to follow GPL licensing for apps on the store (ability to remove DRM etc.), and certain types of digital content just fundamentally doesn't work with App Store pricing. If alternative markets have any effect, I would prefer it to address these areas. Better, that Apple will just resolve these issues on their App Store.

    Apple has made recent changes removing some App Store rules that went too far to protect the platform. I really hope they give developers the ability to opt out of DRM next. That is the major (maybe only) barrier to using the GPL on iOS/visionOS. Remember that Steve Jobs led the way to removing DRM on music you own during the iPod era. Let’s allow that for apps too. It is the right choice for some business models.
    edited February 21 PauloSeraawilliamlondonkurai_kage40domiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 26
    avon b7 said:
    Now, the waiting game to see if the EU thinks it really complies. 

    Personally, I don't think it does. We'll see. 

    So you actually think Apple is going to spend all of those man hours while in direct communication with the EU throughout the entire process, to result in something that doesn't comply? Of course it complies. And, there is no waiting game. No one is investigating anything. 

    chasmaderutter9secondkox2kurai_kage40domiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 26

    xyzzy-xxx said:
    I think more countries need to act, probably Japan and maybe even US is next ...
    Absolutely not. There are plenty of things Apple does wrong, but the EU's approach is absolutely batshit and does not need to be emulated anywhere else.
    chasmkurai_kage40domiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 26

    They basically don't want to contribute to Apple R&D and profits. After profit, Apple essentially uses the device revenue to fund hardware R&D and the App Store revenue to fund R&D for the operating system and built-in apps. I doubt Apple will return to paying for operating systems, so the cost needs to be factored in somewhere. 

    I can see where makers of free apps, freemium apps, and one-time-purchase apps might think the alternative stores are not fair for them. The marketplace rules certainly seem more geared to apps with subscription revenue. However, they are not complaining about that, they just don't want to pay Apple anything and that will never happen. 

    I don't think Apple's store is a bad deal for most types of apps. My criticism over the years has always been that some store restrictions go too far in the name of protecting the platform, there is no way to follow GPL licensing for apps on the store (ability to remove DRM etc.), and certain types of digital content just fundamentally doesn't work with App Store pricing. If alternative markets have any effect, I would prefer it to address these areas. Better, that Apple will just resolve these issues on their App Store.
    My only issue with any of it has been Apple's selective enforcement of their rules based on who they are dealing with. An app like Amazon could never exist under the literal terms of the App Store TOS, but it does, and Apple's reasoning has been: "...because its Amazon..."

    gatorguyInspiredCodekurai_kagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 26

    They basically don't want to contribute to Apple R&D and profits. After profit, Apple essentially uses the device revenue to fund hardware R&D and the App Store revenue to fund R&D for the operating system and built-in apps. I doubt Apple will return to paying for operating systems, so the cost needs to be factored in somewhere. 

    I can see where makers of free apps, freemium apps, and one-time-purchase apps might think the alternative stores are not fair for them. The marketplace rules certainly seem more geared to apps with subscription revenue. However, they are not complaining about that, they just don't want to pay Apple anything and that will never happen. 

    I don't think Apple's store is a bad deal for most types of apps. My criticism over the years has always been that some store restrictions go too far in the name of protecting the platform, there is no way to follow GPL licensing for apps on the store (ability to remove DRM etc.), and certain types of digital content just fundamentally doesn't work with App Store pricing. If alternative markets have any effect, I would prefer it to address these areas. Better, that Apple will just resolve these issues on their App Store.
    My only issue with any of it has been Apple's selective enforcement of their rules based on who they are dealing with. An app like Amazon could never exist under the literal terms of the App Store TOS, but it does, and Apple's reasoning has been: "...because its Amazon..."

    I agree. Apple pricing is fair and in line with what similar markets charge. I have only been critical of certain rules and I think discovery on the store could be better. The games section is full of Gacha apps with no way to filter them out to find gaming gems instead of apps that sell gems. Not that all Gacha apps are bad, but they just overwhelm everything and should be categorized appropriately. Unless there is an editorial, it is impossible to find anything without shifting through piles of junk apps. There are far too many subscription scam apps charging insane fees for minimal functionality.
    edited February 21 PauloSeraa40domiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 26
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,661member
    avon b7 said:
    Now, the waiting game to see if the EU thinks it really complies. 

    Personally, I don't think it does. We'll see. 

    So you actually think Apple is going to spend all of those man hours while in direct communication with the EU throughout the entire process, to result in something that doesn't comply? Of course it complies. And, there is no waiting game. No one is investigating anything. 

    Note that they didn't say actually touch on what the EU thought about its 'compliance'. 

    That begs the question: why not? 

    Man hours. APIs. Studying the DMA. 

    Why didn't they just say 'we ran the whole thing through the EU side and they say we complied'. 

    Not a peep about that because it is very likely that the EU knew about the technicalities of the solution but little about the terms that would govern them. 

    If the EU has given the OK it is weird that Apple did not mention it in the statement. 


    edited February 21 PauloSeraa9secondkox2
  • Reply 10 of 26
    Apple's changes to the EU App Store are due to go live on March 7, 2024. After that date, the company can be investigated by the EU for non-compliance and, potentially, fined 10% of total worldwide turnover.

    ——-

    This makes no sense — they already know what Apple is planning on doing — why don’t they review their plans now before the deadline?  Typical inefficient EU.
    9secondkox2kurai_kagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 26
    omasouomasou Posts: 572member
    The whining boils down to... darn...I cannot entice developer to my app store platform b/c there's nothing in it for them.

    or

    wow my app store is no longer worth making.  
    williamlondon9secondkox240domiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 26
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,093member
    This is nothing more than a money-grab by developers expecting Apple to do all the work in making iPhones to keep loyal customers buying, and spending resources to have them coming back for more.  

    As a developer myself, I'm embarrassed to be in the same group with these miscreants.  I know how difficult it was prior to the App Store with creating and selling software.  Apple's focus is on its loyal customer base, not the greed of a minority, but vocal group of developers.  I would prefer Apple pull out of Europe altogether and give them them the middle finger but I know that's not on the table.

    What WILL happen is Apple will take the blame when side-loaded apps from sketchy developers and nation-states infiltrate someone's iPhone and steals data or bricks them.  Apple will get the finger pointed at them, not the EU.  The EU wants all the features and zero security of Android.
    williamlondonAppleZuluaderutter9secondkox2kurai_kage40domiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 26
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,291member
    Make no mistake about what Apple is saying here. The bottom line on this from a user’s perspective is simple:

    Developers would LOVE to make more money collecting lots of extra data about users and selling that data to entities like Google and data brokers.

    Apple’s App Store rules make that difficult-to-impossible, and puts some control of this in the USER’S hands. For example, the pop-up on new apps that asks you if it’s okay for this app to track you, and (unless you’re an idiot) you say NO.

    You WILL NOT SEE that warning/option in apps you get from other App Stores, because that’s the ONLY way they can attract developers. And they’ll primarily attract skeevy developers running frauds, scams, crypto schemes and other shady ventures, including gambling and porn apps. And Epic, because they are also skeevy.

    I’m not a fan of Apple’s monolithic App Store, and would have preferred if the EU had mandated alternative App Stores that complied 100 percent with Apple’s own self-imposed security/privacy rules, but that was unrealistic.

    But users don’t have be suckers. Use EXTREME caution if and when you download anything from alternative app stores, because there’s probably a reason the app is in there instead of the “real” App Store, and that will ALWAYS have to do with either data gathering/selling, and/or apps that push scams/frauds, or at BEST legit gambling/porn apps.
    40domiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 26
    nubusnubus Posts: 377member
    Two American companies spending a fortune on causing harm to Apple in Europe. Just stop.
    williamlondon9secondkox240domiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 26
    Apple is charging a very fair price.
    williamlondonaderutter9secondkox240domiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 26
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,003member
    Before iPhone and the App Store, software developers carried enormous up-front costs and risks just to create and publish software applications. To justify that risk, software was mostly very expensive. With the App Store, most of those costs are eliminated entirely or are borne by Apple and its App Store. Before, Applications were expensive to produce, and likely included a heavy markup that was needed to recover all the front-end production, publication and distribution costs before any profitability could ever happen. With the App Store, an entire new paradigm created an entirely new market that could become profitable based on low markup and high-volume sales of low-priced, high-quality apps.

    So Apple's response to the EU's requirements is entirely appropriate. Going outside the App Store creates a new vector for malware that has to be minimized. Going outside the App Store does not, however, reduce Apple's costs in maintaining the iOS platform that makes Apps potentially profitable in the first place. Apple is correct in doing everything it can to require a high security and quality standard, and it's also correct in creating a cost-sharing mechanism so that going outside the App Store doesn't give a free ride for developers who think they're entitled to get something for nothing.
    edited February 21 PauloSeraaaderutterwilliamlondonkurai_kage40domiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 26
    avon b7 said:
    avon b7 said:
    Now, the waiting game to see if the EU thinks it really complies. 

    Personally, I don't think it does. We'll see. 

    So you actually think Apple is going to spend all of those man hours while in direct communication with the EU throughout the entire process, to result in something that doesn't comply? Of course it complies. And, there is no waiting game. No one is investigating anything. 

    Note that they didn't say actually touch on what the EU thought about its 'compliance'. 

    That begs the question: why not? 

    Man hours. APIs. Studying the DMA. 

    Why didn't they just say 'we ran the whole thing through the EU side and they say we complied'. 

    Not a peep about that because it is very likely that the EU knew about the technicalities of the solution but little about the terms that would govern them. 

    If the EU has given the OK it is weird that Apple did not mention it in the statement. 


    If you read what they wrote you'd understand that they're not saying that the EU has given its OK yet. They're saying that they were extremely meticulous in their process of engaging with the EU to completely understand the requirements, and then were highly focused on meeting those requirements to the letter of the law while doing everything possible to still maintain the most reliable, safest and most secure platform for their EU customers. What they're saying is that they did not leave any room for the EU to reject their response based on the law. If the EU rejects it, it will be a political action, not a legal one. 
    edited February 21 aderutter9secondkox2williamlondon40domiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 26
    Personally I don’t care if Apple charges developers 1% or 99% but I am surprised at how many developers are willing to work under the current terms.
    9secondkox2williamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 26
    Personally I don’t care if Apple charges developers 1% or 99% but I am surprised at how many developers are willing to work under the current terms.
       Because Apple has created a platform that ease developers time and money for marketing, distribution, maintenance, security, etc with reasonable fees. Without it will cost them more. It’s reasonable to be suspicious when the Apps are distributed outside of official store.
    williamlondon40domiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 26
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,661member
    AppleZulu said:
    avon b7 said:
    avon b7 said:
    Now, the waiting game to see if the EU thinks it really complies. 

    Personally, I don't think it does. We'll see. 

    So you actually think Apple is going to spend all of those man hours while in direct communication with the EU throughout the entire process, to result in something that doesn't comply? Of course it complies. And, there is no waiting game. No one is investigating anything. 

    Note that they didn't say actually touch on what the EU thought about its 'compliance'. 

    That begs the question: why not? 

    Man hours. APIs. Studying the DMA. 

    Why didn't they just say 'we ran the whole thing through the EU side and they say we complied'. 

    Not a peep about that because it is very likely that the EU knew about the technicalities of the solution but little about the terms that would govern them. 

    If the EU has given the OK it is weird that Apple did not mention it in the statement. 


    If you read what they wrote you'd understand that they're not saying that the EU has given its OK yet. They're saying that they were extremely meticulous in their process of engaging with the EU to completely understand the requirements, and then were highly focused on meeting those requirements to the letter of the law while doing everything possible to still maintain the most reliable, safest and most secure platform for their EU customers. What they're saying is that they did not leave any room for the EU to reject their response based on the law. If the EU rejects it, it will be a political action, not a legal one. 
    I know what they wrote but if you read the comment I was replying to, what was the implied line of thought? 

    I'm not seeng where they even get close to saying they did not leave any room for the EU to reject their response. If anything they are explicitly skirting saying that. After all, if they thought the EU was all in on the proposal after so much communication, then why not come out and say so clearly? 
    9secondkox2
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