New rules on mobile app stores could spark a wave of creative, cheaper apps with more privacy options for users. Every budding developer dreams of creating an app that goes viral and makes lots of money overnight. The Angry Birds game became a global phenomenon within weeks when it launched in 2009 and made $10 million (£8 million) in its first year.
But, overall, the numbers clearly show that mobile apps don’t guarantee wealth. A 2021 study showed that only 0.5% of consumer apps succeed commercially . Developers have to scramble for attention among the nearly 3 million apps and games on Google Play and the 4.5 million apps and games on the Apple shop.
On Apple’s iPhone and iPad platforms, the App Store is the only way to distribute apps. Until recently, Apple and from google stores charged a 30% commission. But both cut it in half for most independent app developers and small businesses after lawsuits like in 2020 when video game company Epic Games claimed Apple had an illegal market monopoly.
Lost Epic Games but Apple has been subject to app store changes that are pending. Both Epic Games and Apple are attractive. Epic Games has filed a similar lawsuit against Google, which is expected to go to trial in 2023. App stores set rules around privacy, security, and even the types of apps that can be created.
Third-party stores could set different rules that could be more flexible and allow developers to keep more of the money from the apps they sell.
You were Sherlock
Indie developers say they are sometimes “Sherlocked” by Google and Apple. They develop an app, and soon after, the platforms integrate the functionality of the app into the operating system itself, killing the developer’s product.
TypeFlick was developed as a third-party keyboard for iPhones and Apple Watches in 2019. Soon after, Apple apparently told the developer that keyboards for the Apple Watch were prohibitedthey announced the feature themselves.
The development of an application can take between three and nine months and can cost between $40,000 and $300,000 build a minimum viable product. Some apps take much longer than that to develop.
In 2021, a group of UK-based developers deposited £1.5 billion class action lawsuit against Apple on its store fees. The case will be heard in the UK.
The European Commission told Apple it had abused its position and distorted competition in the music streaming industry and its restrictions on app developers prevent them from talking to users about cheaper alternative apps.
For example, when Apple makes a music app, competitors like Spotify say it’s unfair. They must pay 15% or 30% of their income to Apple, their rival, which operates the store platform. until recentlyApple blocked Spotify from informing users of cheaper options (such as subscribing through the service’s website).
A report from the UK Competition and Markets Authority highlighted concerns that tech giants are creating barriers to innovation and competition. their full market research is due to report in June 2022. The UK government has pledged to introduce new laws “when parliamentary time allows.”
Alternative app stores
The EU Digital Markets Act could be in force in spring 2023. The legislation aims to open up mobile platforms by allowing users to install apps from alternative storesand ensure that app store providers do not favor their own products or services over offerings from third-party developers.
In February 2022, a U.S. Senate panel approved a bill to to master app stores.
It is possible to install apps from other niche stores on Android hardware – like the F-Droid Store for open-source applications. But the Play Store is available on almost all Android phones by default, which means the apps available on it can reach a many more users.
Both Apple and from google App review processes (which review apps from developers before making them available) have been heavily criticized for lacking transparency, consistency, and general unevenness. Indie developers have no real leverage against international billion dollar companies.
Apple expressed security and privacy issues allow apps from other stores on their devices.
App Store review processes may try to ensure that apps adhere to their privacy policies. Most users don’t read them however, and applications can already access and share much more data that users realize.
Third-party app stores are likely to create a trade-off between user freedom and user security. Some users may prefer Apple and Google’s approach to privacy. Others may prefer a more open experience, where they can install apps from smaller independent developers, who can develop their apps without having to go through the big app stores. hoops.
The point is that it is possible to give users this choice – trial evidence shows that Apple originally planned to support running apps outside of its app store. The Digital Markets Act may force Apple to reconsider.
DMA will not deliver results to users and developers if not properly implemented. The European Commission itself seems ready to become a dedicated regulator for the first time. This will take time, however, and the commission will need to build a large enough team to ensure effective oversight and enforcement.
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