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European alternative app shop AltStore will provide Patreon-backed applications.

The EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) highlights concerns about Apple’s dominance in the App Store ecosystem for iPhone apps, suggesting that it hampers competition. This compels the tech giant to welcome new competitors. Consequently, we are starting to witness the emergence of a potential app store ecosystem where alternative developers can challenge the dominance of the default iPhone App Store.

An interesting example is the AltStore, an alternative app store that is getting ready to leverage the DMA to release an enhanced version of its app marketplace in the EU. They also have intentions to support apps backed by Patreon.

In order to adhere to the new European law, Apple is implementing APIs and frameworks that enable developers to distribute apps outside of the App Store. The AltStore was prompt in recognizing this opportunity, and recently, AltStore developer Riley Testut unveiled screenshots of the upcoming version of his app store that will be available in the EU.

Instead of relying solely on traditional monetization methods like ads, paid downloads, or in-app purchases, the AltStore offers developers a unique opportunity to market their apps directly to consumers through its custom Patreon integration.

The store, which will be launching in the EU, will initially offer just two apps, according to the developer. The developer plans to offer Delta at no cost, while AltStore’s clipboard manager, Clip, will be accessible with a pledge of $1 or more on the crowdfunding platform Patreon. The AltStore intends to incorporate the beta versions of Delta and Clip in the near future. To access these versions, a monthly Patreon pledge of $3 will be required.

This distinctive business model for monetizing apps bears resemblance to Apple’s in-app subscriptions, but it eliminates the conventional 15% to 30% commission on sales that the tech giant presently charges. Under Apple’s DMA rules, alternative app stores have the option to pay €0.50 for each first annual install per year over a 1 million threshold. This new scheme allows them to access the revenue generated by larger apps, referred to by Apple as the Core Technology Fee. (The future of Apple’s fee is uncertain, as the EU is currently investigating the tech giant for potential non-compliance with competition law.)

According to Testut, once the AltStore is up and running smoothly, the intention is to enable other developers to distribute their apps through the storefront by setting up their own sources.

“They will also have access to the Patreon integration we utilize for distributing ‘paid’ apps,” Testut informed Eltrys. This integration will transform the business model for apps that would otherwise face restrictions in the absence of the DMA.

“One thing @altstore does that may prompt you to consider alternative payment systems is its integration with Patreon. This allows you to link app access to your Patreon pledge, creating a unique and personalized relationship with your users. It also enables you to utilize the same reward system used for videos, blog posts, merchandise, and more,” shared iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith in a post on Mastodon. “Alternative app stores can explore different approaches instead of simply replicating Apple’s model,” he suggested.

In addition, he emphasized the AltStore’s ability to offer users a detailed overview of an app’s entitlements or additional permissions prior to installation.

In addition to providing developers with a fresh opportunity for monetization, Testus asserts that the EU edition of the AltStore will be significantly more user-friendly than its current counterpart.

Currently, individuals seeking to sideload apps through the AltStore without jailbreaking their iPhone must utilize a Mac or PC, furnish the AltStore with their Apple ID and password, and subsequently refresh the apps on a weekly basis. The process in question is not only a matter of concern for security, but it is also quite intricate. However, the EU version of AltStore will not require these steps.

“It functions in a similar manner to the App Store,” Testut explains.

The screenshots he shared showcase the AltStore, which bears a striking resemblance to a contemporary app store. It features various categories such as games, lifestyle, and utilities, along with convenient buttons to effortlessly download its collection of free apps, reminiscent of Apple’s App Store. Nevertheless, the user interface will have a slight variation since Apple mandates developers to include an extra confirmation screen following the user’s click to install an app. The AltStore, not Apple, will handle updates and purchases, as this screen informs consumers.

Testut also mentions that the AltStore apps need to go through Apple’s notarization process for installation. This implies that not all sideloaded apps in.ipa format are suitable for installation.

Testut is currently awaiting final approval from Apple, but the new AltStore is ready for launch.

Juliet P.
Author: Juliet P.

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