Making Sense of Apple's App Store Rule Tweaks: 'Cupertino Is One Step Ahead of Regulatory Curve'

Apple, Inc. AAPL announced Thursday new App store rules, marking the second refinement in 10 months. The 30% in-app take rate for large developers and 15% take rate for small developers remained unchanged.

Windfall For Small App Developers: Apple's recent App store policy change will likely benefit small developers, given they otherwise are less likely to have a way to contact their users, Loup Funds Managing Partner Gene Munster said in a note.

Large developers such as Netflix, Inc. NFLX and Spotify Technology SA SPOT have already stepped away from Apple, prohibiting new users to sign up inside the App Store, the analyst said.

"Win-win" For All Stakeholders: The changes announced do not allow developers to advertise within their apps about alternative payment options, the analyst said.

"This is a moderation, not an elimination, of the anti-steering clause," he added.

Apple's adjustment, according to the analyst, is a win-win-win for all three parties – Apple, app makers and lawmakers.

Related Link: Why Apple Is A 'Top Tech Name' To Own Right Now

Allowing Third-party App Stores Next Bone of Contention: There is a low probability of regulators making any movement on take rate, due to the complexity involved, the analyst said.

Given Apple has a 50% market share in the U.S., the tech giant may be forced to allow third-party app stores on iOS, according to the analyst.

Explaining the modality of how this will pan out, Munster said, an iPhone user will go to Apple's App Store and download a third-party app such as Epic Games or a large centralized store like Alphabet, Inc. GOOGL GOOG's Google. Upon entering the third-party app store, the user will download an additional app, he added.

Once an additional app, say a gaming app, is installed on the iPhone, the iPhone user would access the app as they do any other iOS app, the analyst said.

Not Much Is Going to Change: By moderating the anti-steering clause, Apple is giving more control to developers and ultimately consumers, especially with respect to their payment methods, Munster said. That said, the analyst expects little to change in terms of consumer behavior.

"While transacting through the App Store may be more expensive than going direct to a developer, the App Store makes it easier for users to manage multiple subscriptions, gives them frictionless payments, along with lowering the risk of malware and providing greater payment security," the analyst said.

Munster expects more than 95% of users to continue to rely on the App Store for payments.

A Step Ahead of Regulators: Munster believes regulators will likely be pleased with Apple's compromise as it gives consumers more choice and reduced distribution and maintenance costs for app developers.

"While additional App Store regulation proposals will continue to surface, particularly around third-party app stores, Apple's revisions to the App Store keep them one step ahead of the regulatory curve," the analyst concluded.

Apple shares closed Friday's session up 0.72% at $148.60.

Related Link: Apple App Store Settlement Reveals Updates: How Did A BofA Analyst React?

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