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Meta Plans to Compete with Google, Apple via In-app Downloads in the EU

Meta is considering a new ad strategy that allows EU users to download apps directly from Facebook. This move could position Meta to compete with Google and Apple's app stores.

Meta's plan to allow direct app downloads in the EU.

Meta is developing a new strategy that would enable users in the European Union to directly download apps through Facebook advertisements. This plan could position Meta as a competitor to Google and Apple's app stores.

The innovative type of ad is scheduled to begin as a pilot with a select group of Android app developers later this year. Meta's move comes in anticipation of the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA), expected to be enacted next spring. The DMA labels Apple and Google as "gatekeepers" and mandates that they open their mobile platforms to alternative app download methods.

Though Google currently allows sideloading, it is complicated due to its in-app billing and licensing linked with the Play Store. The tech giant also discourages this by displaying warning messages when users attempt to download an Android app from a non-Play Store source. Given these constraints, Meta has chosen to test its new strategy on Android rather than Apple's iOS.

The pilot offers developers the benefit of hosting their Android apps on Facebook, letting users download them directly without redirecting to the Play Store. This convenience could result in higher conversion rates for app install ads. Meta plans not to take a share from in-app revenues from participating apps, at least initially, allowing developers to use their preferred billing systems.

Tom Channick, a spokesperson for Meta, confirmed the plan, stating, "Developers deserve more ways to easily get their apps to the people that want them." However, Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Meta's new initiative coincides with Microsoft's announcement in March to launch an alternative app store for games on iOS and Android in Europe next year, following the enforcement of the EU's DMA.