Fortnite Set for iPhone Comeback in EU: Apple Faces Digital Market Overhaul

Image source: BBC News

Fortnite, the popular video game, is poised to make a triumphant return to iPhones in the European Union after a hiatus of four years. This significant development comes in the wake of a new EU law that aims to foster greater competition in the digital market. Epic Games, the developer behind Fortnite, will now have the opportunity to operate its own app store on Apple devices, marking a departure from the exclusive App Store model currently in place.

As of now, users with iPhones are restricted to downloading apps solely from Apple’s App Store. However, with the implementation of the new EU law, set to take effect from March, Apple will be obligated to permit its customers in the EU to access alternative app stores. This transformative shift in policy follows Epic Games’ decision to withdraw Fortnite from the App Store back in 2020 due to disagreements with Apple’s app distribution policies. While the game has been accessible via the web, its absence from the App Store has been keenly felt by users.

The catalyst for this change is the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which aims to regulate major technology companies serving as gatekeepers to services like search engines and app stores. The Act seeks to level the playing field, promoting fairness for both established companies and smaller enterprises operating within the digital ecosystem. It is worth noting that these changes will not initially apply to the UK, but the UK’s Digital Markets Bill, currently undergoing parliamentary scrutiny, is expected to subject Apple’s practices to similar regulatory scrutiny.

Tim Sweeney, the CEO of Epic Games, expressed his perspective on these changes in a post on social media platform X (formerly Twitter). He criticized what he referred to as “hot garbage in Apple’s announcement,” highlighting concerns about what he termed “junk fees on downloads.” One specific point of contention is a core technology fee, where developers are charged for apps that surpass one million downloads.

Beyond the Fortnite saga, Apple has announced additional adjustments to its policies in the EU. It intends to open up browser choice further, allowing users to opt out of using the Safari web browser from the moment they first access it. Apple, however, sounded a note of caution, expressing concerns about potential security risks associated with these changes, emphasizing the importance of maintaining high standards to protect users from privacy and security threats.

The changes outlined by Apple aim to comply with the Digital Markets Act’s requirements in the European Union. Still, the tech giant also asserts that these alterations may bring about increased privacy and security risks for users, potentially exposing them to malware, fraud, and scams hidden within apps sourced from alternative stores.

While these shifts align with the EU’s push for open and competitive markets, Apple remains committed to upholding its reputation for offering premium-priced products with an extra layer of security. It contends that the changes will comply with the Digital Markets Act while acknowledging the inherent challenges tied to enhanced privacy and security regulations. As the tech industry continues to navigate these evolving landscapes, the impact of such regulatory measures on consumer choices and digital market dynamics remains a topic of keen interest.



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