Jason Snell: ‘Answering the Burning Questions About Apple’s Reported App Store Plans’

Jason Snell:

What’s the world going to look like after this happens?

You know. Round… blue. Pretty much the same as now. I really have a hard time seeing most members of the public turning off App Store protections and installing separate App Stores. Yes, it will happen, but the Play Store is still the place to be on Android, despite its long-time support for sideloading. In fact, Android developers have found that leaving the Play Store and going it alone is quite bad for business. Bet on the status quo.

Snell’s detailed take on this story is exemplary, and (I hate to say) much more cohesive than my own, primarily, I think, because he didn’t waste the time I did trying to parse the letter of the law in the E.U.’s Digital Markets Act. But the above encapsulates both how I think this will turn out in the end (not that big a deal), and my frustrations with Apple not self-regulating to open iOS on its own terms years ago.

I also think Snell’s summary explains the disdain for this effort within Apple itself. Mark Gurman reported:

Apple is applying a significant amount of resources to the companywide endeavor. It hasn’t been a popular initiative within Apple, considering that the company has spent years decrying the need for “sideloading” — the process of installing software without using the official App Store. [...] Some engineers working on the plan also see it as distraction from typical day-to-day development of future features, according to the people.

Maybe you think Tim Cook and Apple’s leadership care mostly or even only about the money generated by App Store commissions. I won’t argue with you about that here. But Apple’s engineers and system designers do not care about those commission rates. They just want to spend their time building great features people will actually use, that will make Apple’s platforms better. I think Apple is spending an inordinate amount of time and effort to comply with the E.U.’s DMA to build features and OS subsystems that will provide little to no practical benefits to actual users, and if anything, will likely be setbacks on the privacy front.

Wednesday, 14 December 2022