Apple's huge iPhone changes might not be enough for the EU — competition chief blasts "very serious" issues with DMA non-compliance

App Store Iphone 13 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

Apple may soon face a huge fine from the European Union, as the bloc’s competition chief has raised concerns about the company’s compliance with the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

In a chat with Silvia Amaro at CNBC, the EU’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, remarked, "We have a number of Apple issues; I find them very serious. I was very surprised that we would have such suspicions of Apple being non-compliant,” Vestager continues. ″Apple is very important because a lot of good business happens through the App Store, happens through payment mechanisms, so of course, even though you know I can say this is not what was expected of such a company, of course, we will enforce exactly with the same top priority as with any other business.”

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a regulation set by the EU that designates certain companies, like Apple, as Gatekeepers. This designation requires these companies to change their operations to promote fair competition. For Apple, this means allowing developers to distribute their apps in third-party marketplaces, bypassing the company’s App Store.

This was put into action with iOS 17.4 in March, permitting users in the EU to download apps outside of the App Store. Marketplaces such as AltStore PAL emerged soon after. However, Vestager remains dissatisfied with Apple’s compliance so far. According to a Financial Times report on June 14, the potential fine could relate to how Apple charges a ‘Core Technology Fee’ of 50 cents to developers who have apps with more than 1 million users. In addition, there’s also a 3% fee for developers who use the company’s payment system.

If Apple is found to have violated these rules, the company could be fined up to 10% of its total worldwide annual turnover. Regardless of the outcome, we can expect further developments from Vestager soon.

What’s available in the EU so far?

If you live in the EU and you own an iPhone running iOS 17.4 or later, you can download some alternative app marketplaces right now. AltStore PAL is one example that offers apps such as Delta, a multi-system emulator that can play games from console and handheld devices. This includes Nintendo’s Game Boy, Super Nintendo, and more. Clip is a clipboard manager that runs in the background, allowing users to save different clippings such as text, links, and more. These can also be pasted into other apps at any time.

MacPaw, the creator of apps such as CleanMyMac X, ClearVPN, and more, announced its own app marketplace called Setapp. Currently available as a beta, it features a variety of apps designed for lifestyle and productivity tasks on iPhone.

While the selection of apps available outside of Apple’s App Store is limited for now, this may be due to the strict terms that developers must adhere to, such as the Core Technology Fee (CTF). If the EU decides to impose a fine on Apple, it could force big changes for app marketplaces outside the App Store, potentially leading to a watered-down CTF.

Whatever the outcome, we’re likely to hear from the EU’s block chief Margrethe Vestager soon about its next steps with Apple. Make sure to keep checking iMore for the latest developments in this saga.

iPhone 15 Pro | $999 at Apple

iPhone 15 Pro | $999 at Apple

Featuring a Titanium finish, a USB-C port, and the powerful A17 Pro chip, it's the perfect device to use those app marketplaces in the EU.

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Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use every day to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a monthly newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64, and Daily Star.

  • FFR
    Kind of has to at this point, this guys going to be out of a job soon after the recent eu elections. Good riddance .