Meta is planning to let users in the European Union directly download apps from Facebook ads, The Verge reported on June 30.
Google allows sideloading, which refers to the practice of downloading and installing apps from outside of app stores (Google Play or third-party), such as through a browser, but the company discourages this practice by warning users of security risks posed by app downloads from external sources. Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t allow sideloading and users can only download iOS apps from the App Store.
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While Facebook is going to test the new ads for Android apps later this year, iOS apps could join next year, thanks to the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which goes into effect in March 2024 and requires platforms like Apple and Google to allow developers to distribute their apps through alternative methods.
This move by Meta could increase competition in the Android and iOS app distribution markets, which are currently dominated by Google and Apple. The two companies are being challenged around the globe for antitrust concerns. In India, for example, Google has been ordered to make significant changes to its policies by the Competition Commission of India (CCI), and Apple is under investigation by the watchdog.
“We’ve always been interested in helping developers distribute their apps, and new options would add more competition in this space. Developers deserve more ways to easily get their apps to the people that want them.” — Meta spokesperson Tom Channick told The Verge
Advantages for app developers:
- No commission to Google, Apple: App downloads through Facebook ads will be a better alternative for developers, for such apps will not have to use Google’s or Apple’s billing system and pay a commission as is required when the app is downloaded from the Play Store or App Store. But this could change in the future if Meta decides to take a cut of in-app revenue from apps downloaded through Facebook ads.
- Large user base: One reason why developers list on Play Store even if they are allowed to list elsewhere is because of the better reach of Play when compared to alternative app stores like Mi Store and Galaxy Store. With Facebook, developers can enjoy a better reach than alternative app stores given the social media platform’s large user base.
- Higher ad conversions rates: “Meta’s pitch to developers participating in the pilot is that, by hosting their Android apps and letting Facebook users download them directly without being kicked out to the Play Store, they’ll see higher conversion rates for their app install ads,” The Verge reported.
How well can Facebook moderate apps: Google and Apple argue that one of the reasons they charge a commission is to moderate the store to keep spam, low-quality, harmful, and illegal apps away. Although not perfect, both Google and Apple do a decent job at this when compared to any third-party app stores. Will Facebook be able to engage in a similar level of moderating to keep harmful and illegal apps away?
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