Apple Says iPhone App Distribution ‘Far From Limited’ to the App Store

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 25 Mar 2021

iPhone App Store

Apple has told the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that developers have multiple ways to reach iOS users and are not limited to just using the App Store.

The ACCC is currently investigating Apple for using the App Store’s dominant position to limit competition. In its latest filing, the company has rejected the “characterisation Commission’s of the Apple App Store as ‘the most dominant app marketplace by a large margin’.”

It notes that it faces competition from alternative distribution sources within the iOS ecosystem, including developer websites.

“Even if a user only owns iOS-based devices, distribution is far from limited to the Apple App Store because developers have multiple alternative channels to reach that user.

The whole web is available to them, and iOS devices have unrestricted and uncontrolled access to it. One common approach is for users to purchase and consume digital content or services on a website.”

Apple also says that the Google Play Store and Samsung’s Galaxy Store also compete directly with the App Store, with even other app stores like Steam, Microsoft Store being its competitors.

Apple also defended its 30% commission for IAPs and on sale of apps and games. The company said that other platforms also charge a similar commission to developers, with some of them also charging a “service fee for payments on top of their commissions.”

Our Take

I am not exactly sure how Apple can claim that developer websites are an alternative to the App Store. The company does not allow for side-loading of iOS apps on the iPhone or iPad from third-party sources for this.

Also, Apple claiming that services accessed through the web browser on the iPhone are an alternative to the App Store is baseless since web apps have many limitations and cannot use native system APIs. As for Google Play Store and Galaxy Store being an alternative to the App Store, none of them allow one to install apps on their iPhone.