Apple will be allowed to continue not offering alternative browsers to their users via the default mechanism those users get apps - Open Web Advocacy

We’ve previously covered filings from Apple claiming Safari is actually 3 browsers and that iPadOS shouldn’t be regulated under the DMA at all, which are arguments that have not held much water in our minds. But on Monday the EU published Apple's November filing, so we’ve been able to see a bit more about what they’re requesting.

In this latest filing, Apple claims that:

  1. That the EU’s application of the DMA is a disproportionate intervention in response to iOS market distortions.
  2. The AppStore should be considered five separate entities, one for each OS (iPadOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS and macOS). We’ve previously discussed how Apple’s distinction between iPadOS and iOS is tenuous.
  3. That iMessage should not be designated, because iMessage is neither hardware nor subscription dependant.

At OWA, we don’t have a ton of opinions on the third claim, but we do on the first two, as they’re material to the interests of web developers and relevant browser competition.

If Apple is able to convince the EU not to regulate their AppStore, Apple will be allowed to continue effectively banning third party browsers from being available to their users via the default mechanism those users get apps. As discussed extensively Apple has banned third party browsers on iOS from using their own engine or modifying an existing engine, instead forcing third party browser vendors to build a browser on top of the system supplied WebKit WebView over whose functionality Apple has exclusive control. A possible outcome of avoiding EU regulation of their App Store is that users may only be allowed to later have additional browsers via side-loading, but OWA is sceptical about this as a path to a fairer landscape.

With 57 days remaining until the Digital Markets Act enforcement begins, we expect to see a few more filings from Gatekeepers, as well as responses from the EU. We’ll keep you posted!