How Regulations Fractured Apple’s App Store

Since introducing the App Store in 2008, Apple has run it largely the same way across 175 countries, right down to the 30 percent commission it has collected on every app sold.

The company calls the result an economic miracle. The store has generated more than $1 trillion in sales, helped create more than seven million jobs and delivered Apple billions of dollars in annual profits.

But as the App Store approaches its 16th anniversary, a patchwork of local rules are upending Apple’s authority over it.

On Thursday, European Union regulators will begin enforcing the Digital Markets Act, a 2022 law that requires Apple to open iPhones in the bloc to competing app marketplaces and alternative payment systems for in-app sales.

The changes follow similar demands in South Korea and the United States, where Apple has been forced to allow alternative payment processors. Similar concessions are being discussed in Britain, Japan and Australia.

The rules are fracturing what was once a single store into a jumble of digital shops across national borders. The once uniform experience of shopping for software on an iPhone now differs, depending on where people live.

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