The European Commission has been working on The Digital Markets Act for a while, and it has been deemed (by many) to be a problem for Apple. The general concept of why is explained by TechLinked in this video EU about to ruin Apple’s whole career. It has been deemed an issue because the act will require Apple to allow site loading applications onto iOS and iPadOS devices (e.g., installing them from outside of the Apple App store). One quick thing, this is not limited to Apple; this would also be a requirement for Google on Android. Companies such as Epic Games has sought after for quite a while (Epic Games v. Apple (Wikipedia)), where Apple’s counter-argument has been that it would present an unprecedented security risk on Apple devices and thereby expose users. There is some truth to Apple’s claims here, as Apple does some (I am not sure how much) security validation of applications in the App store and has removed Apps that have had security issues. But still, it is a limitation that does cause some level of restriction of Apple’s mobile devices and locks them to the Apple ecosystem. But is this act really such a big problem for Apple? I would argue no, actually NO! In this post, I will explain why.
Before we continue, I will state that I am a loyal Apple user (loyal and loyal… my work computers are in general Linux by choice) and have used iPhone as my primary phone since 2008; I have only had Android phones as work phones. Just to make it clear that there may be some bias in the following thought.
So why do I not think The Digital Markets Act will be a problem for apple? Well two reasons
- Customer loyalty and satisfaction
Let us start with Customer loyalty and satisfaction, why it is important, and why it is the most important of the two reasons.
First, Apple as a brand has such a devout following, partly due to the shit just work factor.
When you buy an Apple product, it has a tendency just to work, and that is a massive reason for Apple users to continue to buy them, but it is not just limited to hardware.
iWorks, iCloud, iTunes Music, and so on to the App Store just works.
It is straightforward, easy, and handles a lot of stuff for you, like secure pay for Applications (I have even had to get refunds for a few Apps, and it was super easy).
This alone increases user will to use the App Store simply from a convenience perspective. A competing App store would need to provide at least the same ease and simplicity even to be considered a competitor to the App store. Another thing, if we do not look at free games, Apps on the App store tends to have pretty high quality or go into obscurity. So, therefore, the Apps that do get downloaded (in general) do have a high quality, and I think this is an important factor of the App store as it gives satisfaction to the user. They do not have to handle sub-quality Apps. They just need to handle Apps. This leads me to think that sideloading of Apps for most users is not relevant. I also believe that companies that only offer sideloaded will be met with some distrust. The question will not be “wonder what Apple did for them to do this”, but rather it will be “are they trying to avoid something Apple is doing to protect us”. This ties back into customer loyalty. In conclusion, it results in customer loyalty and satisfaction, making it a) difficult to make a competitor to the App store and b) making it difficult for a single company to provide a sideloaded app. Finally, something I have really been wondering… how would you promote your sideloaded App to people? YouTube? Odysee? Twitter? Where would such an advertisement be most successful?
So next Jailbreaking has existed for a long time and has for those who desired sideloading Apps been a solution to the “problem”. Where App Stores such as Cydia has been available for a while, and many more can be found on zeejb.com, allowing for sideloading apps onto an iOS device. Naturally, with the requirement to jailbreak your phone. But that is not the important point. The critical point is that the option (although complicated) already exists, and I do not know anyone in real life who jailbreak their phone. Why? There is no reason, really, due to Apple’s App Store. Could a potential competitor be the solution to avoid jailbreaking? I doubt it.
I have a hard time seeing an iOS user opting to install an alternative to Apple’s App store unless there is a damn good reason. I predict that we will see a flourish at the beginning of alternative App stores and some companies offering sideloaded Apps. Then after a while, most of the new stores will die, leaving one, two, or maybe three competitors alive (the once able to provide similar services to Apple). Companies that provide sideloaded apps outside the App store will either join an alternative, rejoin Apples, or join both. For the simple reason, distributing and promoting Apps for the companies will become a tedious and annoying task that may harm revenue more than using Apple’s store.
In the end, it will have a limited impact on Apple as most users (I predict) will stick with the App store and look at the alternatives as a weird “novelty” option. But I may be wrong.