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Apple and Google run the two biggest mobile app stores (the App Store and Google Play), and the two combined have over 95% of the app store market share outside of China. For years, lawmakers and developers have been saying that the companies gate keep the marketplace. So, for example, On iOS, users can't download any alternative app stores and need to use the App Store that Apple runs. It's also not just software, though, with Apple saying that it can't get around the EU forcing the addition of USB-C to the iPhone by 2024.
In March 2022, the European Parliament passed The Digital Markets Act (DMA), throwing a wrench in Apple's approach. This Act is meant to "ensure open markets" in digital spaces like smartphones.
Now, Bloomberg has reported that according to people familiar with the situation, by early 2024, Apple will have to allow third-party app stores on devices and also enable sideloading, which is how users install stuff downloaded from the web. But, Apple could still mandate "certain security requirements," so outside apps can be verified (and maybe charged a fee).
"The legislation would help create a more competitive app marketplace that will ignite innovation in the digital economy, and provide more options for American consumers," said the Coalition for App Fairness.
"The DMA will change the digital landscape profoundly. A small number of large companies hold significant market power in their hands. Gatekeepers enjoying an entrenched position in digital markets will have to show that they are competing fairly," said Europe's antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, who originally proposed the legislation.
Apple hasn't commented yet.