Getting started as an alternative app marketplace in the European Union
iOS 17.4 SDK introduces new capabilities that let marketplace developers build and distribute marketplace iOS apps as part of an alternative app marketplace in the EU. These apps can install and support software on devices, access data across a catalog of apps, manage users’ purchases and subscriptions, and more. Marketplace apps must meet Notarization requirements, like all iOS apps, and can only be installed from the marketplace developer’s website.
Operating an alternative app marketplace requires significant responsibility and oversight of the user experience, including content guidelines and moderation processes, anti-fraud measures to prevent scams, transparent data collection policies, and the ability to manage payment disputes and refunds. To uphold user experience standards, Apple will authorize marketplace developers through the Alternative App Marketplace Entitlement (EU) to distribute a dedicated marketplace iOS app after meeting specific criteria and committing to ongoing requirements that help protect users and developers.
Apple will provide authorized marketplace developers access to new app marketplace technologies that allow them to receive apps from other Apple Developer Program members securely, let users download and install their marketplace iOS apps from their marketplace developer’s website, integrate with system functionality, backup and restore users’ apps, and more.
Building an alternative app marketplace
An alternative app marketplace is made up of several technical components: an iOS marketplace app that uses the MarketplaceKit framework, a company website, and a server. The website offers a download button to install your marketplace app, and the app installs from your server rather than the App Store.
Apple will provide authorized marketplace developers access to a new MarketplaceKit framework and APIs that:
- Let them receive and retrieve notarized apps from Apple Developer Program members securely.
- Let users download and install marketplace apps from websites with authorized browsers.
- Integrate with system functionality, back up and restore users’ apps, and more.
Using new App Store Connect distribution tools, developers can choose to notify you of their app updates so you can offer users important functionality, like automatic app updates. More information about App Store Connect will be available in February.
Users can install marketplace apps from a website owned by the marketplace developer after approving the developer in Settings on their iPhone.
Requesting the entitlement
If you’re interested in becoming a marketplace developer in the EU, the Account Holder of your Apple Developer Program membership will first need to agree to the Alternative Terms Addendum for Apps in the EU. Once they’ve agreed, they can submit a request for the entitlement.
To qualify for the entitlement, you must:
- Be enrolled in the Apple Developer Program as an organization incorporated, domiciled, and or registered in the EU (or have a subsidiary legal entity incorporated, domiciled, and or registered in the EU that’s listed in App Store Connect). The location associated with your legal entity is listed in your Apple Developer account.
- Agree to build an app whose primary purpose is discovery and distribution of apps, including apps from other developers.
- Agree to provide and publish terms, including those pertaining to content and business model, for apps you will distribute, and accept apps that meet those terms.
- Agree to publish transparent data collection policies and offer users control over how their data is collected and used.
- Agree to follow the laws of the jurisdictions where you operate (for example, the Digital Services Act, the General Data Protection Regulation).
- Agree to be responsible for handling governmental and other requests to take down listings of apps in your alternative app marketplace.
- Agree to engage in ongoing monitoring and detection of fraudulent, malicious, or illegal apps in your alternative app marketplace.
- Agree to implement a mechanism for reviewing apps for intellectual property infringement prior to distributing them through your alternative app marketplace.
- Agree to provide a process to handle intellectual property disputes related to your alternative app marketplace or apps in your alternative app marketplace.
- Provide Apple a stand-by letter of credit from an A-rated (or equivalent by S&P, Fitch, or Moody’s) financial Institution of €1,000,000 to establish adequate financial means in order to guarantee support for your developers and users.
If your entitlement request is approved and the entitlement is assigned to your developer account, you can start to build and test your marketplace components.
Understanding payments, fees, and taxes
Stand-by letter of credit
In order to establish adequate financial means to guarantee support for developers and customers, marketplace developers must provide Apple a stand-by letter of credit from an A-rated (or equivalent by S&P, Fitch, or Moody’s) financial Institution of €1,000,000 prior to receiving the entitlement. It will need to be auto-renewed on a yearly basis.
Core Technology Fee
The DMA requires Apple to support distribution and payment processing alternatives that are facilitated outside the App Store. To reflect the value Apple provides marketplace developers with ongoing investments in developer tools, technologies, and program services, Apple has introduced a Core Technology Fee.
- Marketplace developers will need to pay €0.50 for each first annual install of their marketplace app. First annual installs included in your Apple Developer Program membership can’t be used for marketplace apps.
- Marketplace developers and app developers that distribute on alternative marketplaces who are approved for the fee waiver are exempt from the fee.
Marketplace developers who are nonprofit organizations, accredited educational institutions, or government entities based in the EU and approved for a fee waiver are exempt from the Apple Developer Program annual membership fee and the Core Technology Fee. This applies to developers of marketplace apps and other apps.
Please note that marketplace developers approved for the fee waiver can only distribute apps from developers who have also been approved for the fee waiver.
It will be your responsibility to collect, report, and remit any required tax to the appropriate tax authorities for transactions that take place using your alternative app marketplace.
Supporting developers and users
If you use this entitlement, it will be your responsibility to protect developers and users by publishing transparent data collection policies and offer users control over how their data is collected and used. You’ll need to provide timely support if questions or issues arise. Apple won’t be able to assist with fraud, IP disputes, payment disputes, or refunds.