On the “Apple allowing 3rd party App Stores/sideloading will be bad” narrative

I think it’s a bunch of FUD, to put it simply.

Let’s go further than that, though. We can already kind of see the effects of sideloading by looking at Apple’s primary competitor: Android.

Android (at least as a product that an end user can buy in a retail store) has been around since 2008 with the launch of the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1. At the very beginning sideloading apps has been a thing you can do on Android (despite AT&T trying to kill it by mandating Samsung and Motorola patch it out of their Android skins on AT&T devices), so the potential for third party app stores has always been a thing.

Some have tried, even! There are some third party app stores that are basically pirate repos for paid apps. There are third party app stores pushed by big players (like Amazon). There are smaller stores for more niche things (like F-Droid and FOSS apps). But between all of these, there’s a common trend: Google’s Play Store and Play Services still remain dominant. There’s a reason that even though one can just…download a proverbial Epic Store on Android that Epic is still going after Google to be let back onto the Play Store.

Sideloading (and app stores) on Android is a niche at best. You can amass a chunk of users, yes, but the vast majority of users on Android aren’t going to deal with the inconvenience of running out and setting up another app store. They’re just going to use the Play Store that the phone already comes with and is already conveniently set up with your Google account.

Consider also this is with minimal things in your way. You can downlaod a .apk file from the internet, install it, and all Google is going to do is ask you to allow the app that downloaded the .apk to install apps. Once that’s done…it’s easy money to just download .apk files and just install them with minimal fuss.

Even then, with relatively few barriers to entry: App stores have not taken off on Android. They have not posed a threat to the juggernaut that is the Play Store. They mostly exist for certain niches, or if you just wanted to pirate apps. That’s really it.

Now, think about how Apple would “allow” sideloading on iPhones. It wouldn’t be anywhere near as easy as it is on Android. They’d probably make you go through some crazy song and dance to do it with a bunch of scary warnings at each step that you’re about to do something that will kill your phone if you do so much as look at it wrong.

That alone would probably scare off a ton of people who just casually wanted to “try” things.

Given that–again–sideloading is already a huge niche on Android, it arguably would be just as niche on iOS, if not more niche. You already can kinda sideload now with things like AltStore, and while those “work”, it’s a solution that isn’t in wide use, though admittedly that could be because of the drawbacks in using it. (Being limited if you don’t have an Apple dev account, if I recall correctly.)

The niche-ness of sideloading on an OS that ultimately encourages you to do it is why I ultimately think Apple and their fan-I mean, shareholders are just spreading FUD when they say that it would be super bad for everyone on iOS if sideloading were allowed. Companies aren’t going to be ballsy enough to require you to get their apps from outside the App Store, the market just isn’t there and they wouldn’t retain enough users to remain solvent.

I also think Apple’s attitude kind of signals that they’re afraid of sideloading. Apple being total dicks to app developers isn’t a new thing in the slightest. Hell, Steven Frank (of Panic fame) did a boycott of the iPhone back in 2009 over Apple being jerks to developers! Developers have endured a ton of BS from Apple over the years, and I partially think Apple’s afraid that they’re going to lose control if they “allow” sideloading. As in, developers will finally just tire of getting abused by Apple and just move to make their apps available outside of the App Store if Apple tells them “hey you can’t do that” over the most stupid, arbitrary reasoning.

I’m all for that, actually. Because that would put more pressure on Apple to actually not be total dicks to developers to keep them wanting to be on the App Store. They’d actually have to treat developers well, for once. Competition is good.

This all tracks with my longstanding belief that Apple has become too big for its britches and has needed to be checked by someone for a long, long time. They sit in a place where they could literally defecate in a box and people would still buy it in droves, and they’re certainly acting like it.