Alternative App Stores Coming Soon on iPhones: How EU Regulations Have Opened Doors

Highlights
  • Setapp, a subscription-based third-party app store, will become available on iPhones in the EU in April.
  • The change follows Apple’s compliance with the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a new European law ensuring fair competition in the online space.

There’s good news for iPhone users in the European Union (EU). MacPaw, the tech company behind Setapp, a third-party app store, will soon make its app store available on iPhones as an alternative to the Apple App Store starting in April 2024. This change occurs as Apple must comply with the Digital Markets Act in the European Union.

What is the Digital Markets Act?

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a European law designed to make the online world fairer for businesses and consumers. It targets big tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple to prevent them from abusing their power and limiting competition.

The DMA sets rules about what these companies can and cannot do. Such as ensuring they treat other businesses on their platforms fairly by giving users more control over their data. And more importantly, the law does away with some of the gate-keeping tactics typically applied by big tech companies. The goal is to make it easier for smaller companies to compete and provide consumers with more choices.

One example of how the DMA impacts big tech companies is Apple’s adoption of USB-C on the iPhone 15. The DMA mandates a standard charging port for specific electronic devices in the EU.

Similarly, the arrival of Setapp as an alternative app store on iPhones in the EU shows DMA’s influence. We all know Apple’s exclusive control over which apps can be distributed on iPhones. With the DMA in place, Apple must allow alternative app stores to operate, giving users more choices and potentially fostering competition in the app distribution space.

What is the Setapp?

Setapp is a subscription-based third-party app store developed by MacPaw, a software development company. It offers a collection of curated apps for Mac users, with a monthly subscription fee that allows users to download and use as many apps as they want. Setapp is available on the Mac App Store for $9.99 (roughly Rs 800) monthly.

When is Setapp coming on iPhones?

Setapp has now announced that it will launch a beta version of its store for iOS in April. Other third-party companies can also launch their app stores on iOS in Europe. Setapp is one of the first contenders in this space. Users can join the waitlist for the Setapp Mobile beta on the company’s official website.

Why won’t Apple Open it up Globally?

There’s no indication that Apple will voluntarily open iPhones to third-party app stores outside the EU anytime soon. The Cupertino-based tech giant argues that its current system keeps iPhones secure, protects user privacy, and provides a consistent user experience.

So, while Setapp and other app stores might appear on iOS in the EU, they are unlikely to come to other markets, such as India or the United States.