Opening up the App Store
Apple has agreed to a major overhaul of its digital services business that will allow customers in the E.U. to download apps from rival app stores, use third-party payment systems and more easily choose a default browser that’s not Safari.
It’s the latest example of regulators forcing big changes on Big Tech.
Apple is making the changes to comply with the E.U. Digital Markets Act, which takes effect in March. The law is a big test for the bloc, which has been trying for years to limit the market dominance of U.S. companies like Apple, Amazon and Google, fearing that their size harms competition and consumers.
The E.U. is a big market for the iPhone maker. The bloc accounts for about 6 percent of the company’s App Store business, which has estimated global revenue of $24 billion. Apple shares fell 1 percent on the news on Thursday.
Apple warned the requirements would be bad for customers. Phil Schiller, who leads the App Store business, grumbled to The Financial Times that the revamp was being forced upon the company and that the measures will make the user experience in Europe inferior to that of “the rest of the world.”
Opening up the App Store does address some criticisms by developers and regulators. Apple has long resisted making changes to the App store, which has come under fire by developers like Spotify and Epic Games for extracting high fees and requiring that they conform their technology to Apple’s platform.