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MacPaw plans iPhone app store alternative to comply with new regulations

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Now that the EU has forced Apple to allow sideloading apps in the European Union (EU) to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA), it is only a matter of time before alternative app stores appear. 

One player planning such an app outlet is MacPaw. Probably best known for its Mac utility CleanMyMac X, the Ukrainian company already runs an innovative app store for Mac users. Called Setapp, this store gives subscribers access to over 240 apps for $10 a month. 

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But now, the company is readying an app store for iPhone users in the EU. 

Writing on the company’s blog, Mykola Savin, MacPaw’s director of product management, made the announcement. 

“Navigating the complexities of this evolving landscape, we are gearing up for an exciting venture this year: The launch of the Setapp mobile marketplace in the EU. This has been a highly requested feature from our users, and we’re committed to delivering it with the same user-centric focus and innovative spirit that defines us,” Savin wrote. 

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MacPaw says that it wants to create a “balanced app ecosystem where developers can thrive under a business model that promotes fairness and value, regardless of their size,” which means that this could be an attractive offering for software developers. 

And the project has clearly been in the works for some time. 

“Our team is in the final stages of developing a beta version of the Setapp mobile marketplace, anticipating its readiness in 2024,” Savin wrote.  

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And it’s a potentially huge market. 

 The iPhone accounts for around a third of all smartphones in the EU, so it’s potentially a very lucrative market for any company that can get a sideloading app store to work, and work well. 

I suspect that we will be seeing a fair few sideloading app stores pop up in the EU over the coming months. But the challenges facing them will be huge — both in getting users to make the switch, and finding developers who want to put the effort into a new outlet. 

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