Apple in Japan May Soon Have to Supporting Third-Party App Stores as Country Works on Regulation

EU has already passed the Digital Markets Act that would force Apple to support sideloading of iOS apps.

  • Japan has plans to send legislation to the parliament sometime in 2024.
  • New regulation would allow the Japan Fair Trade Commission to impose fines on companies violating the law.
  • Apple could also be forced to support third-party app billing platforms.

Apple’s app and device ecosystem is commonly called a walled garden. It dictates the vast majority of the experience and gives little to zero freedom over how something should be done. One example is not allowing users to install apps from anywhere other than the App Store. This is the reason the European Union (EU) recently passed the Digital Markets Act (DMA) to change that. Now, Japan is reported to be following suit by considering passing its regulation related to third-party app stores and billing systems on iOS.

Apple Could be Forced to Offer Sideloading of iOS Apps in Japan

A new report from Nikkei Asia has claimed Japan is working on a new regulation that would require Apple to support third-party app stores on iOS. It would extend to offering in-app purchases and billing solutions in addition to the App Store. The change, if passed, would affect multiple companies including the likes of Apple and Google.

Apple has always offered the App Store as the sole official destination for downloading apps on iOS devices. It further requires subscriptions and in-app purchase billings to be done through the App Store as well. The company takes a 30% commission on each transaction. This approach has led to Apple becoming a dominant player in the app market. It has also been accused of misusing its power on various occasions in th past.

The report says Japan could send the new legislation to the parliament sometime in 2024. It is said to focus primarily on four areas: app stores and payments, search, browsers, and operating systems. The change would allow the Japan Fair Trade Commission to impose fines on violations. The exact amount of the fine is unknown but as per other existing antitrust laws in the country, the fine could be around 6% of the total revenue. More details are expected to surface during next year’s spring.

The change would essentially force Apple to support the sideloading of iOS applications. This is something it has always opposed citing security and privacy reasons. EU has set a deadline of March 2024 for the Cupertino-based tech giant to offer some kind of sideloading to iOS users in the region but the company is yet to share details.

In related news, Apple recently announced Contingent Pricing on the App Store. This would allow developers to offer discounts on subscription prices to users if they are already subscribed to some other service. The two services could either be from the same developer or different developers. The goal is to give developers more ways to attract new customers to their respective subscription offerings.