Nov 3, 2021 - Technology

Apple defends App Store's walled garden

Illustration of the App Store logo on marionette strings. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A top Apple executive sounded off Wednesday against a proposed European law that would force the company to let iPhone users download software outside of the App Store, also known as "sideloading."

Driving the news: Apple software senior vice president Craig Federighi told an audience at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, that the EU bill, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), would be dangerous for iPhone users and limit consumer choice.

The big picture: Apple is continuing to double-down on its defense of the tight control it exhibits over the App Store, even as it faces antitrust scrutiny from Congress and regulators and competitors and app makers vocalize their complaints.

  • Google's Android, the largest alternative to Apple's iOS, does allow for some types of app sideloading.

What they're saying: "It could open up a Pandora's box of unreviewed malware and software," Federighi said at Web Summit. "Sideloading is a criminal's best friend."

  • Federighi said people should have the right to choose Apple's system, which he described as secure and privacy-focused.

Context: The DMA is one of two major pieces of legislation the EU is considering that would fundamentally change how dominant tech companies operate in Europe.

  • The DMA, which mainly aims to keep "gatekeeper" companies from favoring their own products, currently has a provision that would require Apple's iOS to allow downloading apps away from the App Store.
  • As Bloomberg reported in October that finalizing the new rules could take years, final passage of the DMA remains far off.

Meanwhile: Apple's Big Tech rivals continue to argue it exhibits unfair power over apps by taking a 30% cut from transactions.

  • Facebook parent company Meta announced Wednesday that creators will soon be allowed to share web links to be paid directly through Facebook's payment system, bypassing Apple's in-app subscription links, allowing creators to keep all money they make minus taxes.
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