This is interesting – according to a new report from The Verge, Meta’s experimenting with its own in-Facebook app store, which would enable developers to showcase their apps, and also facilitate direct downloads for users, without them leaving The Social Network.
As explained by The Verge:
“Meta’s planning to let people in the EU directly download apps through Facebook ads, setting the company up to eventually compete with Google and Apple’s app stores. The new type of ad is set to start as a pilot with a handful of Android app developers as soon as later this year.”
The move, which as The Verge notes, would apply to European users and developers only, comes in response to the incoming EU Digital Markets Act (DMA), which will require Google and Apple to open up their respective mobile platforms to alternative methods of downloading apps.
That could open the door for Meta to take more control over app distribution, and potentially in-app payments as well, eliminating the current restrictions and taxes that the two tech giants place on Android and iOS interactions.
Meta has long criticized Apple’s approach, in particular, on this front.
Back in 2020, amid a public spat over Apple’s fee structure for in-app purchases, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg labelled Apple’s approach ‘monopolistic’ and harmful to competition in the space.
That was sparked by Meta’s push to allow creators to make money from virtual events on Facebook, amid the COVID lockdowns which had canceled IRL live events, but Apple refused to yield its 30% cut on in-app purchases, thereby limiting creator intake. Apple eventually paused its fees in light of the situation, but resumed taking its share shortly after.
Many others have also criticized Apple and Google’s similar approach on this front, with both Meta and Twitter seeking to side-step their cut of revenue from their subscription programs, by offering variable pricing for purchases in-app and on the web – i.e. where those taxes don’t apply.
The potential to actually control this element on their own, and generate more direct income for Meta and its partners, could be a major opportunity, and it’ll be interesting to see how the EU looks to apply its DMA approach, and whether that does indeed allow alternative app stores, and then extend to other transactions as a result.
It’s still early days, and Meta hasn’t launched any official information on the project, as such. But it is exploring its options, and that could be a game changer for app developers, and those looking to make direct income from their Facebook and IG presence.
App install ads would be the first step, and if it works in one region, you can bet that Meta will be enlisting its army of Washington lobbyists to push for the same in other markets.