16 implications of third party app stores on iOS

App Store submission guidelines

When are we getting third-party app stores on iOS? The answer might be as soon as next year, but more likely in 2024.

Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, not one known to indulge in silly speculation, says that Apple is preparing to open up the iOS platform for the possibility of third-party app stores, most likely in recognition of the new European Union law, the Digital Markets and Services Act. I predicted that would happen in July of this year as I dug into the new legislation and decided it meant that Apple would be forced to allow software access to iPhones and iPad in ways other than the App Store.

This week I took some time to dig into what it means.

I came up with 16 implications or questions that will have to be answered:

  1. Will there be third-party app stores in the EU only, or in the whole world?
  2. Will Apple still charge fees for apps installed via third-party app stores?
  3. Will Apple drop the fees on the official App Store to compete?
  4. Why have app stores at all?
  5. App Store-as-a-Service: will Apple completely reinvent itself and try something truly innovative?
  6. Will Apple be forced to host third-party app stores?
  7. App Tracking Transparency enforcement implications: will Apple lose its power to enforce privacy regulations?
  8. What happens to SKAdNetwork, Apple’s mobile attribution framework?
  9. What privileges and what restrictions will third-party app stores have?
  10. What happens to the app review process?
  11. What privileges will apps downloaded from third-party app stores require?
  12. Will every big publisher become its own app store … will Netflix, for instance, become an app store for its games?
  13. Will Stripe offer a mobile app payments layer to abstract all the complexity for apps and app stores?
  14. Content implications: who will police porn, violence, racist material?
  15. So many publishing implications: where do you offer your app?
  16. So many marketing implications: how do you aggregate all your spend, total your installs, allocate your campaigns?

You can find all of these, with a ton of detail, questions, and implications for each, in my post on my client Singular’s blog right here.

One thing is totally clear: the mobile ecosystem on iOS is going to change significantly. But, it will be hard to displace the official App Store as the primary way more people still get their app.s