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Apple won't fight EU over iPad gatekeeper status, third-party App Stores coming

The EU is treating the iPad as a gatekeeper platform under its Digital Markets Act

Despite the EU claiming that the iPad qualifies under its Digital Markets Act as a gatekeeper when it does not yet, Apple has announced that it will comply regardless.

Even the EU's own anti-competition regulator Margrethe Vestager says that the iPad does not meet the criteria to come under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Yet the EU is enforcing its DMA rules on the iPad as if it did.

"Today, we have brought Apple's iPadOS within the scope of the DMA obligations," announced Vestager. "Our market investigation showed that despite not meeting the thresholds, iPadOS constitutes an important gateway on which many companies rely to reach their customers."

Now Apple has announced that it will be complying with the EU's decision. Consequently, third-party App Stores will be supported on iPadOS, though Apple has not given a specific date. The support will come with an update to iPadOS in the fall.

This support will be identical to that now provided to iPhone and iOS developers, and it will come with the same conditions. So it remains that developers will only be able to create third-party app stores, or distribute iPad apps directly from their websites, for users within the European Union's 27 member countries.

Apple has added one further consideration to its third-party app support and its Core Technology Fee, however.

With exceptions, that fee is tied to how many times an app has a first install during a year. Apple now says that if a user installs the same app on both iPhone and iPad within the same year, it will only count as a single first annual install.

Apple has released updated developer documentation covering this. It has also updated its online fee calculator for developers looking to work out the economics of either staying with Apple's current App Store rules, or choosing to accept the EU business arrangements.