Setapp will launch its own third-party iPhone App Store in Europe next year

Setapp icon on an iPhone
(Image credit: Setapp)

App subscription outfit Setapp has announced that it is getting ready to launch its own third-party iPhone and iPad App Store in Europe as soon as 2024.

Apple currently requires that all apps installed on iPhones and iPads be downloaded via its own App Store, but European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA) is in the process of challenging that. As a result, Apple could be forced to allow third-party app stores onto its mobile platforms for the first time ever.

It was heavily rumored that sideloading and third-party app stores would be announced at WWDC 2023, but nothing came of it.

But if this happens in 2024 instead, Setapp says it'll be ready.

Third-party app stores

Setapp already offers iPhone apps as part of its subscription service but they aren't installed via its own App Store. Its Mac apps are installed via a special app, but that simply isn't possible on the iPhone or iPad. That could change thanks to the DMA, and Setapp has announced that it is launching a new waitlist for those who want to get in on the ground floor.

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If Apple is indeed forced to allow third-party app stores in Europe Setapp could be one of the first to launch. However, Apple is still expected to try and fight the decision to force it to open up the iPhone and iPad in ways that would change the way people get apps forever.

Apps downloaded via third-party app stores wouldn't be impacted by App Store fees, including the 30% so-called App Store tax that sees almost a third of app revenue taken from developers at the point of sale.

However, it's important to note that this will only affect those in the European Union, so those in the United States and indeed a large portion of the world won't be able to enjoy the benefit of Setapp's app store, or indeed those offered by anyone else.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.