Setapp to Launch the First Alternative App Store for iPhones in EU

Setapp App Store
Image Courtesy: MacPaw
In Short
  • The software company MacPaw is all set to launch one of the first third-party app stores on iPhone in the EU, named Setapp Store.
  • The Beta version will be released on Thursday, with the stable version arriving in April 2024.
  • The Setapp Store will include a subscription, but at the moment, it’s unclear how much it will cost.

Software development company MacPaw is one of the first to officially adopt Apple’s new DMA (Digital Markets Act) rule in the European Union. It is all set to launch one of the first third-party app stores on iPhone, named Setapp Mobile. On Thursday, the company is releasing its Setapp store in Beta, with the stable version arriving in April 2024. Users can join a waitlist to access the beta version, and developers interested in this alternative app marketplace can apply on this page.

Currently, Setapp is a popular subscription-based service on macOS that allows users to access over 240 third-party apps for $9.99 per month. This includes some popular apps like MindNode, Ulysses, Session, iStat Menus, Unite, Spark Mail, and more.

With iOS 17.4 and later, Setapp Mobile will be available on the iPhone in the European Union. This alternative app store on iOS will feature a “carefully selected assortment of apps, including fan favorites from the Setapp catalog.” Setapp Mobile will offer Productivity and Business tools, Lifestyle and Productivity apps, Creative and Design Software, Specialized professional tools, and Utility tools as well.

Of course, Setapp’s new iOS app store won’t be available for free. It will include a subscription, but at the moment, it’s unclear how much it will cost. Yaroslav Stepanenko, MacPaw product marketing manager told The Verge, “The pricing will be tailored to standard subscription pricing models, but it hasn’t been defined yet.”

Alternative app stores are one of the major changes that Apple has to implement in the EU with iOS 17.4 to comply with DMA. This will allow iPhone users in the EU to download alternative app stores, from where they can access apps that may not be available on Apple’s official App Store. Previously Apple was strictly opposing sideloading, so third-party app marketplaces couldn’t operate on the iPhone.

Talking about Setapp, it offers a unique approach to the app store business. Instead of asking users to individually pay for apps they want, it offers all of its apps available through a single monthly subscription.

“We are setting a new path for the software industry towards a better and more diverse app ecosystem. We carefully curate our collection, ensuring that every app, every feature, and every update aligns with our philosophy of meaningful efficiency.”- MacPaw CEO

Apple is expected to roll out iOS 17.4 on or before March 6, which is the deadline for the EU’s DMA. Bear in mind that these App Store guideline changes do not apply outside of the EU. Also, they don’t cover iPadOS in any country.

Right now, MacPaw is one of the first companies to offer an alternative app store on the iPhone in the EU, along with Epic Games. Even if Apple has decided to let go of some of its restrictions, we’ll have to see if the third-party apps store on iOS can be a success. Not to forget, Apple will charge a commission of 50 euro cents per install to developers, after an app reaches 1 million downloads annually in the EU.

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