Japanese iPhones could get third-party app stores soon, just like the EU

A blue iPhone App Store icon on a blue background
(Image credit: Getty Images / NurPhoto)

Just as iPhone owners in the European Union recently got third-party iOS app stores thanks to an EU court decision, Japan has taken another step in getting the same thing on citizens' iPhones on the other side of the world.

According to The Japan Times, a bill has been submitted by the “administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida” that “would compel the dominant platforms to allow third parties to launch their own app markets and to offer more payment options, while banning the technology giants from giving preferential treatment to their own products.”

Just like other nations, it’s all part of an antitrust case that wants to see competition grow, with a focus on making more stuff available to a wider range of customers, crucially curbing walled gardens like Apple’s App Store.

What’s the point?

The bill hopes to “facilitate competition in smartphone software services by weakening the control of Apple and Google.” That means making sure that app stores are opened up, creating more competition, and more importantly, choice.

Currently, smartphone users have limited software choices when they buy a phone — an iOS device, or an Android handset, and virtually nothing else beyond them. When they opt for either one, they are by default locked into using the app store that comes built into the OS of their new device, which means they can only download apps that the manufacturer has deemed worthy.

Of course, there are more installation options on Android, where you can install apps that you’ve downloaded from the web. With iOS on the best iPhones, however, you’re locked into Apple’s App Store, where Apple is the sole decision maker of what you can download onto your device. In order to get around that, the EU made Apple allow the installation of third-party app stores on iOS devices, so that users have more choice as to where their apps come from

As such, there are now more app options available to the residents of 27 different countries, who can now install apps from alternative sources: and it looks like Japanese iPhone users could soon get the same thing if the Prime Minister's bill goes through.

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Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.