⌘ March 12, 2024

The whole Apple vs. DMA thing has me feeling unenthusiastic, and it could have been so much better

I’ve not weighed in on Apple’s battle with the European Commission’s Digital Markets Act because, frankly, it seems out of my depth, and I’m not a citizen of the EU so I don’t think my opinion about it counts for much. But I feel compelled to share a few that thoughts solidified as I read Chance Miller’s summary for 9to5Mac of the latest changes to developer’s options over there:

Now, Apple has announced a few additional changes in response to feedback it’s received from developers so far. Most notably, Apple will launch a new Web Distribution feature later this spring that lets developers offer their apps for download directly from their website.

There’s a bunch of stuff here that we would have celebrated Apple for introducing had it done them on their own. Instead, the DMA dragged into them it. Web distribution similar to the Mac? Wow! More linking out opportunities? Great! But knowing Apple hates having to do these so much that they didn’t even make it into the first go at compliance leaves it all feeling insincere and hollow.

As a user, I’d wary of all the new ways to download apps if they were available in the USA. Call me basic, but I value the simplicity of one place to download, update, and restore apps.

As someone sympathetic to developers who have been frustrated by Apple’s iron hand ruling of the App Store, I understand the desire for more options, and for real competition to push Apple to make a better distribution product.

As an Apple enthusiast, I wonder how differently the cards would have fell had Apple loosened their grip on their own, rather than have the European Commission do it for them. For one, I’m confident everything would have been settled before their announcement. The fits and starts of changes to the agreements and options are mightily confusing. And I’m sure the community would feel far more charitable toward Apple, rather than the tinge (and often much stronger) of resentment knowing they have no desire to build any of this.

Apple missed their opportunity to do a developer-friendlier App Store 2.0 on their own, and I’m disappointed that they seem too prideful and firm in their convictions to see how that would have paid off in the long run.


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