Remaking the app store

This post is by Benedict Evans from Essays – Benedict Evans

There’s very little we can say about Apple’s App Store policies that we didn’t say when it launched in 2008, in 2011 when it first tightened the rules, or in 2020, when Epic tried to stunt its way out of them. Meanwhile, the world has moved on: generative AI is the centre of tech innovation, excitement and company creation now, not smartphone apps. The Vision Pro might swing the pendulum back to AR/VR and Apple, but not for years. Seen from Silicon Valley, this is an argument from a decade ago. 

That time-lag itself is a broader structural problem: the decision-cycle of regulation and due process tends be longer than the life-cycle of technology platform. Everyone in the regulation industry is very conscious of that, but the alternative is to speculate about the future development of a market that doesn’t exist yet, and that has its own problems, as the FTC found when it tried to stop Meta from buying Within. Pick your trade-off.

And yet, this platform is the primary computing device for over a billion people, and with the DMA we have a big new law from the EU that tells Apple it has to change things. There’s also a court ruling in the USA (rather narrower and focused on Apple’s anti-steering rule), and perhaps more coming from a rumoured DoJ/FTC lawsuit. Apple has responded with a very broad set of proposals and changes to how things work, or might work. These are not at all what people (Read more…)