NEW YORK ― Apple has unveiled a sweeping plan to tear down some of the competitive barriers that it has built around its lucrative iPhone franchise, but the new choices opening up to consumers and app developers will only be available within Europe to start.
The announcement comes as Apple moves to comply with upcoming European regulations aimed at giving consumers the choice to use alternative app stores and provide app developers with unprecedented avenues to avoid paying fees that have become a gold mine for the tech giant.
The overhaul, scheduled to take effect in early March, will include concessions that Apple had previously refused to make in its app store, including lowering the fees it collects from developers in Europe, AP reported.
Most notably, Apple for the first time will allow iPhone users in Europe to use app stores other than the company-operated one that comes installed on the mobile device.
It will also enable developers to offer alternative payment systems that could help them make more money while potentially lowering their prices.
But Apple says it fears opening up the iPhone to outsiders will also increase chances consumers venturing outside its proprietary system will be exposed to hackers and other security problems.
The Cupertino, California, company it is taking what it sees as a risky step only to comply with European rules known as the Digital Markets Act, or DMA, that take effect March 7.
Apple promised to bundle all the complex changes into an iPhone software update – iOS 17.4 – that is scheduled to be released in 27 European Union countries in early March. A test version of that software update will first be distributed to app developers.