The European Union’s recent ruling that Apple must allow alternative app stores on its devices is a bold move, but it is unlikely to succeed. Apple has no incentive to help these alternative app stores thrive, and the example of Samsung’s Galaxy Store shows that even the top smartphone manufacturer in the world has been unable to make a significant dent in the app store market.
When it comes to Android, Samsung has the advantage of being the top smartphone manufacturer and being able to heavily promote its own app store, the Galaxy Store. However, despite these advantages, the Galaxy Store remains a failure compared to the Google Play Store. This shows that even with the backing of a major device manufacturer, alternative app stores struggle to gain traction.
One of the biggest challenges for alternative app stores will be changing the habits of iPhone and iPad users. Since the launch of the App Store, these users have become accustomed to using it for their app needs. This means that alternative app stores will have to work hard to convince users to switch from the App Store and start using their platforms instead. This is no easy task, as people are often resistant to change and may be hesitant to try out a new app store.
Another factor that will make it difficult for alternative app stores to succeed is the fact that Apple has strict control over its app ecosystem. This means that any app that is available on the App Store must go through a rigorous review process before it is approved for download. This ensures that the apps available on the App Store are of high quality and do not contain any malicious software.
In response to this concern, it is worth noting that Apple may require alternative app stores to follow similar reviewing processes. This could make it more difficult for alternative app stores to operate, as they would have to invest in a reviewing system and ensure that all apps on their platform meet the same high standards as those on the App Store.
Furthermore, Apple may also require alternative app stores to use its payment system, which could add additional costs and hurdles for these app stores to overcome. All of these factors could make it more challenging for alternative app stores to succeed, even if they are able to offer a wider selection of apps than the App Store.
There are two areas where I see these alternative app stores succeeding: the first is in the case of game launchers like Steam or Epic. These platforms are already popular, and their offering of cheaper games or subscription services could have mass appeal. The recent legal battle between Epic and Apple over the App Store’s monopoly on in-app payments has brought the issue of alternative app stores to the forefront, and combined with this recent EU ruling, it is possible that this could pave the way for more game launchers to enter the market.
Furthermore, game launchers like Steam and Epic already have a large user base and a strong brand recognition, which could make it easier for them to convince users to switch to their app stores. In addition, the wide selection of games available on these platforms could be a major draw for users, as they would be able to access a wider range of games at potentially lower prices than on the App Store. All of these factors make the gaming market a ripe opportunity for alternative app stores to succeed.
The second area where alternative app stores could potentially succeed is in the case of China, where there are already a multitude of app stores for Android devices. The high brand recognition of these app stores in China would help Chinese iPhone users quickly adapt to using app eventual stores like the Huawei App Market and the Oppo Software Store shall they launch on iOS.
However, the use of alternative app stores in China may also be influenced by geo-political issues between the US and China. In the past, the Chinese government has taken steps to block the use of the Google Play Store. It is possible that in the future, the Chinese government may encourage the use of alternative app stores made in China or simply block the App Store.
Additionally, for nationalistic reasons, Chinese iPhone users may prefer to use alternative app stores made in China rather than the App Store. This could provide a boost to these app stores and help them gain a larger share of the market. Overall, the combination of high brand recognition and potential government support or user preference for domestic app stores could make the Chinese market a promising opportunity for alternative app stores.
As of now, only the EU is forcing Apple to allow alternative app stores and given the aforementioned challenges to adoption and running of these stores, it is likely that these alternative app stores will see limited success. However, if countries like the US and China follow suit and also force Apple to allow alternative app stores, we could see big changes in the app landscape in the next two years. The success of alternative app stores in the gaming and Chinese markets will be particularly interesting to watch.