If Apple had very quietly allowed sideloading a few years ago, that would have removed the antitrust threat – while the overwhelming majority of iPhone owners would have continued to get their apps from the App Store, just as they always have. The percentage of iPhone owners who will ever sideload an app is vanishingly small, so Apple has spent a lot of time and energy fighting a battle that is completely pointless
Worse, by fighting the issue so loudly and for so long, Apple has actually given the issue way more publicity than it would ever have received otherwise. It has turned what would otherwise have been a boring technical detail covered only by the Apple press into a mass-media news story. Apple has effectively contributed to its portrayal as a bad guy, with zero benefit to the company.
Right on the money – and I’m glad it has transpired this way. I doubt we’d ever have gotten this far without Apple continuously trying to stop it.
I also agree. Sideloading is quite a niche activity. It wasn’t necessary for apple to deny owners from having the right to install what they wanted for apple to still have a strong IOS app store monopoly. I do find it very problematic that competitors were totally blocked from the market for so many years. Even if the competitors only existed in the long tail, owners deserve to make their own app store choices without interference or coercion.
We all know why Apple locked sideloading on iOS:
1) Games like Fortnite have the brand power and customer loyalty power to encourage users to sideload the app (bypassing Apple’s tollbooth) in exchange for more in-game currency.
2) Apple doesn’t like emulators and how each of them comes with potentially thousands of games that can be acquired from outside the App Store
3) Apple doesn’t like Kodi either
4) …or browsers that don’t use the Safari engine.
5) You can’t downgrade apps either if there is no sideloading, so feature removals are final.
So, I disagree with the author. Lack of open sideloading in iOS was the reason Apple could keep an iron grip on the App Store. Instead, open sideloading on Android serves to keep Google honest, which is why the Play Store has things like emulators, Kodi, and browsers that aren’t just a reskin of the default browser. And yes, you can sideload Fortnite too.
So, I don’t agree with the author that the lack of open sideloading in Android is a minor issue. It was a major aspect of Apple’s control-freak-for-fun-and-profit strategy that just went poof. Good.