Apple is once again battling bills that attempt to force the company to allow iOS apps to be distributed outside of the App Store. This time, the company urged US lawmakers to defeat an antitrust bill in the US Senate that would allow users to install any app on iPhone and iPad.
As reported by Bloomberg, Apple wrote a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin and Republican Chuck Grassley, saying Bill S. 2710 “will harm user privacy and security” if passed . The legislation would require Apple to allow “sideloading” on iOS, which is the process of installing software downloaded via the web or sources other than the official App Store.
Apple is concerned that “big media platforms” could circumvent Apple’s user data protection guidelines if sideloading on iOS is allowed. Tim Powderly, Apple’s head of government affairs for the Americas, also said allowing software to be installed outside the App Store would make it easier for malware and scams to spread among iOS users.
As noted in the report, the bill has a high chance of being approved by the committee because it has bipartisan co-sponsors. However, obtaining the approval of the entire Senate will be a difficult task. Several US states have tried to pass bills to end App Store exclusivity on iOS, but so far none of them have been successful.
The 9to5Mac take
Apple’s fear of such a bill goes far beyond security and privacy. The company currently requires developers to pay a commission of between 15% and 30% for every sale made within the iOS ecosystem, even within third-party apps. If developers can distribute their apps outside the App Store, they will no longer need to pay Apple to sell iOS apps.
Apple was recently forced to allow alternative payment systems in the Netherlands and South Korea, but even so the company says it will still charge developers the 30% commission.
Judge Yvonne Rogers in the Epic Games case ruled last year that Apple could no longer prohibit developers from redirecting users to third-party payment systems. However, Apple is now appealing this decision, which means it will still be some time before a final decision is made. Until then, the company is unlikely to change how iOS apps are distributed.
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