Japan Set to Enforce Sideloading Regulations on Apple, Following EU

Following the footsteps of the European Union, Japan is allegedly considering implementing antitrust laws that would mandate Apple to permit sideloading on its iPhones and iPads.

The Digital Markets Act recently passed in the EU demands Apple to enable users in Europe to install iOS apps from sources other than the App Store by March 2024. Apple hasn’t officially reacted to this act yet, but there’s speculation that other nations worldwide may adopt similar regulations. Japan appears to be among the first countries to pursue such a move.

New Japanese Regulations to Impact Apple’s App Store Policies

Nikkei Asia’s report on Tuesday indicated that regulatory authorities in Japan are gearing up to introduce an antitrust regulation. This regulation aims to compel Apple and Google to permit users to download apps from sources other than the official App Store and Play Store. Additionally, it would enable alternative payment methods for these apps. If implemented, this move could grant iPhone and iPad users in Japan the freedom to access and install third-party apps, effectively loosening Apple’s tightly controlled ecosystem.

The forthcoming legislation, anticipated to be introduced to parliament next year, targets four key domains: app stores and payments, search functionalities, browsers, and operating systems. Should this legislation pass, it is envisaged that the Japan Fair Trade Commission would gain the authority to levy penalties on companies found in breach of these new regulations. Specifics are set to be unveiled by spring 2024. Reports from Nikkei suggest that the trade commission might enforce penalties of up to 6% of the revenue generated from any malpractices.

The step is taken amid increasing global scrutiny of App Store practices. Regulators and developers have expressed concerns about the monopolistic control wielded by the Cupertino tech giant over its app distribution platform. Allowing users to sideload applications would provide them with greater flexibility and choices, potentially fostering a more competitive app market.

AzMo Tech’s Take

The anticipation was for Apple to introduce sideloading functionality in iOS 17, but there hasn’t been any official announcement yet. The potential of sideloading is vast, opening doors for users to explore a broader range of applications beyond the App Store’s limitations. Apple’s closed ecosystem has historically prioritized security over openness. However, this regulatory pressure sparks a reevaluation of the equilibrium between stringent security measures and user autonomy.

Nonetheless, this development could potentially raise concerns about security vulnerabilities and fragmentation within the iOS ecosystem. Achieving the delicate balance between user empowerment and maintaining robust security measures will be pivotal during this significant transition.

Despite the reliability of the report, confirmation and implementation are expected to unfold in the coming year, warranting further observation.

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