Apple to take on app developers with changes to the App Store to be announced next month
Apple looks set to shake up the App Store at the World-Wide Developers Conference, or WWDC, next month. According to insiders, Apple intends to bring more app development in house and throw down the gauntlet to external developers who currently create apps for the firm's devices. While this could be beneficial for Apple in the short term, developers are getting increasingly concerned.
Apple’s decision stems from its desire to increase revenue from the digital services division and is proving to be a challenge for its relationships with third-party developers. The App Store’s success – it is predicted revenue of US$50 billion this year – has been partly down to the wide array of third-party apps available to download to the company’s mobile devices. With Apple actively seeking to make a greater share of the apps available on the App Store it risks unsettling and upsetting third-party developers who have contributed to the Store’s success.
The changes in emphasis are part of an ongoing strategy by Apple to grow its digital services revenue. The plans include a new Books app to rival Audible on the Apple Watch, and to make changes to the stock keyboard to allow users to swipe across letters on the keyboard to type words - a direct challenge to third-party apps such as SwiftKey. Other changes to iMessage and Apple Maps appear to be intended to win users over from popular third-party equivalents such as WhatsApp, Google Maps and Waze.
Apple has been under pressure recently from third-party developers, including Spotify, who complain that Apple’s software gives it an unfair advantage in the App Store and are seeking a review by the European Commissioner for Competition. While Apple has refuted these claims, it seems that the drive to grow its own presence on the App Store could lead to greater conflict with third-parties in the future. The conference opens on June 3.