Setapp announces plans to launch an alt app store for EU users

App subscription service Setapp is preparing to launch as an alternative app store, as soon as new EU regulations come into effect next year. The company is betting on the EU’s Digital Markets Act’s (DMA) rules that should allow users to install third-party apps on iOS without having to go through Apple’s App Store.

However, how Apple chooses to interpret the new law remains unclear.

A December 2022 report from Bloomberg indicated Apple was preparing to allow alternative app stores on iPhones and iPads to come into compliance with the DMA, despite its ongoing concerns over the security issues involved with “sideloading” apps, which can impact consumers’ safety and privacy. But, the report noted, the tech giant was still discussing other ideas about how this new system would work — perhaps even requiring these apps to be verified by Apple for a fee.

In the meantime, though, Setapp is moving forward with the assumption that Apple devices will ultimately have to support third-party app stores and is working on plans to launch its own.

The company today offers an app subscription service where users pay a fee of $9.99 per month in order to gain access to over 240 apps for their Mac, including utilities, productivity software, customization tools, lifestyle applications, and more. Other plans include those that also offer apps for iOS devices ($12.49/mo), for power users with more devices ($14.99/mo), in addition to family plans and Setapp for teams.

For the new stand-alone app store, Setapp claims to have over 30 partners on board prepared to offer their apps, including Ulysses, Taskheat, NotePlan, PDFSearch, and Soulver, according to its press release. It’s also calling for more developers to submit their own.

The company aims to entice developers with better revenue shares than Apple provides. The company offers a 70/30 split with developers when customers use their app during the month, but it additionally shares 20% with developers who bring in new customers — that means developers have the potential to earn up to 90% from Setapp’s user fees every month.

“With 60% of developers interested in distributing their iOS apps through third-party app stores, we are excited to extend our support to iOS-only developers and provide them with a platform to grow users and add revenue streams,” said Oleksandr Kosovan, founder and CEO of Setapp, in a statement.

The company is offering a waitlist for customers who want to hear about the new store when it launches.


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