Will Apple be Forced to Allow IOS App Sales Outside of the App Store?


Will Apple be Forced to Allow IOS App Sales Outside of the App Store?

Perhaps, but Apple has a trump card or two

Screen showing computer code
Photo by Pankaj Patel on Unsplash

Back in May, I opined that Apple has options if laws force them to cut App Store fees.

That hasn’t happened, although Apple will have to allow developers to tell users that they can purchase outside of Apple’s store. That has already caused Apple to reduce some fees and they may decide they need to cut more.

For now, Apple still must bless the app — you won’t be allowed to install any IOS app not blessed by Apple.

But that could change. Macs have always allowed third-party apps and laws to force Apple to do the same with IOS are being pushed. This certainly could happen.

So the IOS App Store would die?

Opinion blows both ways. Some say that it will not because users prefer one-stop shopping and the security of knowing that Apple has checked the app for at least obvious scamming or security breaches.

Others point to the tumbleweeds blowing through the Mac App Store where outside downloads are allowed. They don’t think many developers would bother with Apple.

Caught in the middle

So Apple could be trapped. Already forced to allow developers to avoid App Store fees and now being threatened with allowing unblessed IOS apps? There is a tremendous amount of money at risk here.

Or is there?

As I said in that May post, Apple has other ways to extract money. I had to update that article today because I forgot one very obvious option.


Apple doesn’t currently charge for their Development System, but they certainly could. They could also license very necessary libraries and bill developers for every launch of their app. The more complicated libraries could be much higher priced.

There’s nothing unusual about that. While Open Source is certainly a strong ecosystem, many developers have to pay fees to use libraries. Just because Apple never has does not mean that they never could. They can.

C++: NSStringWithoutYourMothersHatButWithNiceCandyFrosting — aargh! (Tony Lawrence)

Could developers avoid this?

Perhaps, but remember that Apple doesn’t have to just remove apps from the store if they are feeling cheated. They can remove the app from the phone itself by not allowing it to run.

It’s money

Licensing money could replace app store fees. Apple could decide not to charge for free apps, so nothing would change for users. But developers not offering free apps on the App Store would have to pony up, and it could be more expensive than current App Store fees.


If Apple went in this direction, jailbreaks (replacing IOS with a clone) would be a possible way to avoid licensing. But jailbreaks are harder and harder to do, and adding the need to avoid Apple libraries makes the hurdles seem far too high.


Whatever happens, Apple has options. There is too much money in play to expect that Apple will just throw in their cards and give up the pot.


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