Tuesday, April 30, 2024

iPadOS Also a Digital Gatekeeper in EU

Tim Hardwick (Hacker News):

EU antitrust officials on Monday identified iPadOS, Apple’s operating system for iPads, as a significant digital gatekeeper under the EU’s new tech regulations, which carry strict requirements that aim to promote fair competition and expand options for consumers.


“Apple’s business user numbers exceeded the quantitative threshold elevenfold, while its end user numbers were close to the threshold and are predicted to rise in the near future.”


The Commission has now given Apple a six-month deadline to fully comply with the obligations set by the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which means we should expect enforced changes in iOS like alternative app marketplaces, web distribution, and alternative browsers to come to iPadOS as well in a forthcoming update.

John Gruber:

The “lock-in” is basically just features exclusive to Apple’s own platforms. I’m not even sure how Apple could possibly create a platform without “lock-in”.

On the other hand, iPadOS is clearly more of a marketing distinction than a technical one. It’s iOS under the hood, so I doubt it’ll be much trouble for Apple to apply its DMA compliance features from iOS to iPadOS. I would have been surprised if the EC had not decided to designate iPadOS a “gatekeeping” platform, and I’m guessing Apple itself is unsurprised as well.

See also: Jeff Johnson.


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> John Gruber: "I’m not even sure how Apple could possibly create a platform without “lock-in”."

This sounds like Tim Cook not knowing how much money Google gives to Apple to be the default search engine on Safari.

Also John Gruber: "The rules are what the EC commissioners decide they are, not what the DMA says."

That's funny, it looks exactly like "The rules are what Apple decide they are, not what the App Review Guidelines say." So Cupertino should not be shocked.


It must be tough to have built your entire career around praising a company that suddenly has its thin veneer of "We're not like the others" striped off.

After his blatant hypocrisy around who gets to police Facebook, and his insistence on not reading the Gatekeeper definition, I've lost all respect for Gruber's tech commentary.

Still likes his quips on American politics though. He's only stupid when it puts food on his table.

No one is "locked in" to anything. If you want to change platforms, change platforms. What would you be "locked in" to?

Apple should pull their products from the EU, or raise their prices there to account for this nonsense.

Old Unix Geek

"I’m not even sure how Apple could possibly create a platform without “lock-in”."

Really? Let's see. It takes extra work add lock-in. Don't do that work.

If you look at this part that Gruber quoted, I do see his point that it’s not really clear what Apple could do: “Business users are locked-in to iPadOS because of its large and commercially attractive user base, and its importance for certain use cases, such as gaming apps.” Lock-in is probably not the right term for that.

Old Unix Geek

Yes, Lock-in is the wrong term:

DVDs are a platform controlled by the DVD forum. They could have banned any movie they didn't like, say movies criticizing them, the government, or movies featuring naked people. They could also have demanded 30% of all receipts. Had they done so, the EU would have intervened. Instead they only make sure that "DVDs" follow certain technical specs so that they can be read on all equipment. This is exactly what the EU wants to see: happy consumers whose DVDs work in their DVD players.

Had Apple not behaved as a gate-keeper, they would have been treated like the DVD forum. No one cares if you provide a successful platform that everyone clamors to use. That's not lock-in. People only care if you try to unfairly leverage it against other companies' interests. That's why Microsoft got into trouble for trying to leverage Windows to win the browser wars. Once they stopped doing that, no one took Windows away from them.

Yes, all cars should be the same too, so that you can move from one brand/class to another without having to change any of your accessories or learn anything new (driving stick, different handling/acceleration/performance characteristics, etc.). It's not fair that I can't drop in to Indy with my Ford Fiesta and race with the other drivers.

Imagine the alternative: Apple would have not done any of these things to start with. Or done a full SJ 360 before it was too late.

The AppStore would likely still be successful because it would be the preferred way to install Apps. Users free to install any way they want if they choose to, using the AppStore because they choose to, not because they HAVE to.

It would have kept App Review in check, App Guidelines in check, led to happier developers, trials from the start, possibly better AppStore price expectations as a result. How much bureaucracy would have been avoided (Xcode not compiling your code, sign updated agreement first)!

Would Apple's bottom line really have suffered that much?

But now it looks like a company run by an accountant nitpicking paragraphs. How "cool" is that as a brand?


If Apple managed the Indy races only they would be allowed to use wheels, just like only Apple are allowed to use NFC (a technology they didn't invent)

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