Third-party app stores for iPhone and iPad would harm users

In his first-ever court appearance, Apple CEO Tim Cook last Friday laid out his case for why Apple should be the only company to sell apps on the iPhone, saying that allowing third-party app stores would expose consumers to malware and hackers.

Apple's App Store on iPhone
Apple’s App Store on iPhone

Daniel Howley for Yahoo Finance:

Testifying in game developer Epic’s antitrust suit against Apple, Cook called the notion of putting third-party app stores on the iPhone “an experiment I wouldn’t want to run.” He’s not alone, either. According to New York University Tandon School of Engineering professor Justin Cappos, opening up the iPhone would imperil every iPhone owner.

“I think there’s a very clear line to draw to say that if you let basically people go and run their own effective app stores,” Cappos told Yahoo Finance, “even if they’re installing things like kind of within an app, the potential for malicious code and malicious behavior on the iPhone increases dramatically.”

Of course, there’s more to Apple’s objection to having third-party app stores on the iPhone than simply protecting consumers. There’s also the 30% fee Apple collects on the sale of many apps and in-app purchases made through the App Store.

MacDailyNews Take: Under Apple’s “App Store Small Business Program,” introduced in 2020, developers earning up to $1 million per year only have to pay a 15% commission on in-app purchases. This $1 million threshold will be based on how much existing developers made across all their applications on a post-commission basis. So, developers could actually earn up to $1.3 million in gross revenue ans still qualify for the 15% commission fee. The reduced fee will also apply to new developers launching their apps for the first time.

The vast majority of apps on App Store pay nothing to Apple beyond the $99 annual Apple Developer Program fee.

In his testimony, Cook suggested opening up the iPhone would come with grave risks.

He provided a stark contrast between the amount of malware on Apple’s iOS versus Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Android and Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows, which do allow third-party app stores.

Cook told the judge that while iOS devices account for 1% to 2% of all malware infections, Android and Windows devices account for 30% to 40%. “If you look at malware on iOS versus Android and Windows, it’s literally an off-the-chart level,” he said…

Both Apple and Google have automated processes that detect malicious software in their stores, but Google has run into trouble by allowing consumers to access third-party app stores. Most security experts will tell you to avoid downloading apps from third-party stores due to the increased risk of malware…

It’s now up to Judge Gonzalez Rogers to determine if Apple should be forced to open up iOS to third-party stores. If not, the company could also be required to cut its store fees, or allow app developers to offer their own payment systems, cutting into Apple’s profits.

MacDailyNews Take: Clearly, third-party App Stores for iPhone and iPad would harm users. And, since when do judges get to set prices for stores, determine what types of payments stores accept, or force stores to allow manufacturers to set up free ads next to their products for competing stores that offer lower prices?

We’re all for Apple allowing app developers to inform users that the App Store isn’t their only shopping option, as long as Epic Games or any other developer simply pays Apple a 15% – 30% advertising fee for each sale they make as a result of being offered the alternative payment option via Apple’s App Store.

35 Comments

  1. As with anything, buyer beware. But not because Apple says so. Who are they to decide for me if I choose otherwise.

    If you disagree, by all means by from the Apple Store only.

          1. “I asked the doctor, I said, ‘is there some kind of cognitive test that I could take?’ … the last questions are much more difficult. Like a memory question. You’ll go ‘person, woman, man, camera, TV.’ So they say — ‘can you repeat that?’ … for me it was easy.” – D. Trump

            1. Just quoting the twice-impeached former president. You know, the loser. So much losing! So I’ll assume your comment about forming coherent sentences was directed at him. Good luck with that.

            2. Tony Aromam, the depth to your stupidity is staggering. “Impeached” by treasonous libturds counts for nothing. Stop breeding.

              Orange man is gone. You replace him with a corrupt, lying, racist, dementia patient and a whore. Your life isn’t better. You, and the other libturds are still insufferable, stupid twattwaffles. Nothing has changed.

            3. Impeached? What a joke. The world just laughed at you stupid dumocrats. You libturds are so fucking gullible.

              The amount lies told by the liberal media is staggering.
              The amount of news hidden by the liberal media is staggering.
              The amount of libturd stupidity that it takes not to know it is staggering.

    1. Apple does say so for reasons that continue to allude you. Do not quite understand your personal principal stand and obtuse quixotic quest.

      No matter, the choice is clear. Apple maintains the highest level of security relentlessly defending the walled garden.

      You want to roam outside the security and trust your devices to rogue developers susceptible to malware, viruses and stealing personal data, enjoy.

      But NOT on iPhones the security is second to none and Apple terms for developers are more than fair.

      Epic is greedy and crying to make more money at Apple’s expense, but far more dangerous, is opening up the App Store inviting rouge pirates to threaten and ruin the seamless Apple experience.

      Not now, not EVER!…

      1. Apple also stifles innovation by its App Store monopoly. For instance “Duplicating Functionality” is forbidden, which by definition rules out improving functionality.

  2. I really do think the iPhone is an integrated package. It’s hard to draw a box around any one element and say “that’s the app store” and “that’s the OS” and “that’s the device”.

    The App Store is one way Apple pays for things like the development environment, and even a new programming language. If anyone can start selling apps there’s the issue of paying their share of the costs (aside from the security issues and quality issues).

    1. Their ‘share’ is a nice concept and I agree that Apple should make back a certain amount. However when the company is huge, their payment is exponentially larger, more than paying for the work Apple may put in. How much more effort is there between the first 100k users and the next 1M users? Perhaps a cap is in order. Apple will take 30% across the board, but will cap at say $1M/yr for any single developer.

  3. Apple NEEDS competition to the app store to force improvement on some of its user hostile trends. iTunes, and the Music and Podcast apps are all absolute messes, and have been for years with no improvement. Their censorship standards would ban the Louvre were it not granted special exemption due to being old. File handling on iDevices is awful, and it seems like they want to degrade MacOS to that standard rather than update the finder.

    Once you spend thousands of dollars on a product, and commit months of your time learning it and integrating it into your life, the barriers to change can be totally unfair to the consumer. This gives the company a government-like control over their customers, so government-like regulation is warranted. I love SOME things about Apple, but often feel quite abused by them.

    For free markets to work, customers need REALISTIC alternatives. You can’t justify mistreatment by saying that the other guy is 30% worse.

    1. To put it another way, Apple could justify their “walled garden” approach if they did a better job of using it to the benefit of their customers rather than themselves.

      I just discovered that you can’t actually search iTunes for music anymore on mac! Any search takes you to a sales pitch for Apple Music streaming instead. That is unfair manipulation of the user. This also happens sometimes when I search for music I already have on my phone – it will try to sell me music I already bought from iTunes, when all I want is for it to just play.

      1. This isn’t true. You can search for music both in your own library, and on the iTunes Store as always. They’ve more than justified their approach, you don’t have to like it or agree, but it is justified.

        1. I’ve used macs since 1985, and I can’t figure out what they did with iTunes search. Everything I do produces an ad for the streaming service. How are you doing it? It used to be simple. Now I get nothing but that damn ad.

    2. Wow…have I heard it here before…”iTunes, and the Music and Podcast apps are all absolute messes?”

      I don’t remember, but the devolution is clear. I agree.

      The decline seemed coincidental to the related content becoming subscript based.

  4. Apple hurt their case when they went unnecessarily political and dropped the Parler app from the App Store. They should’ve stayed out of that fight.

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