Apple Inc. will allow European users to download iPhone applications from web platforms for the first time as it moves to step into line with European Union rules targeting Big-Tech dominance.

As part of the overhaul, Apple will also let developers offer discounts to users away from the app store and will permit third-party marketplaces to offer their own developed apps.

Most of the changes will be put into effect immediately, except for Apple’s offer to allow developers to distribute apps from websites, which will launch in the spring, the company said in a blog post. 

The overhaul is Apple’s latest in a round of tweaks linked to compliance with the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which went into force this month. The law targets the dominance of platforms such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google Search, Apple’s App Store, Inc.’s marketplace and Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook in an attempt to improve competition. Those firms must comply with a range of rules or face significant penalties of as much as 10 per cent of a company’s annual worldwide revenue or up to 20 per cent for repeat offenders.

Apple’s rejigs have attracted mounting pressure from regulators and competitors. Last week it said it would restore a developer account for Epic Games Inc. — allowing the Fortnite maker to build its own EU app store, which could compete with Apple’s own. The reversal came a day after Brussels regulators questioned Apple’s decision to bar Epic and raised the prospect of further fines for the iPhone maker.

The company was also hit with a €1.8 billion fine in the EU this month for shutting out music streaming rivals from offering cheaper deals. Apple’s appealing the penalty and has said that regulators failed to uncover any “credible evidence of consumer harm.”

Apple made other moves to bring the App Store into compliance in the EU this year, including restructuring the fee it charges developers. The company scrapped its 30 per cent commission for a cheaper rate of 17 per cent. Instead, it implemented a 3 per cent processing charge for apps that use Apple’s in-app purchasing system and a 50 cent fee per app install for software that’s downloaded more than 1 million times in a 12-month period.

The EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager told Bloomberg last week that “the DMA is quite specific, also when it comes to having a fee structure that actually enables people to use these new benefits.”

Apple, along with Meta and TikTok, is fighting its designation as a “gatekeeper” in the EU courts. TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd. last month lost a court bid to suspend the EU’s decision while the appeal is pending, forcing the video-sharing app social-media platform to comply with new regulation.

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