This morning, the EU announced that

the Commission has opened non-compliance investigations under the Digital Markets Act (DMA) into Alphabet's rules on steering in Google Play and self-preferencing on Google Search, Apple's rules on steering in the App Store and the choice screen for Safari and Meta's “pay or consent model”.

The Commission suspects that the measures put in place by these gatekeepers fall short of effective compliance of their obligations under the DMA.

In addition, the Commission has launched investigatory steps relating to Apple's new fee structure for alternative app stores and Amazon's ranking practices on its marketplace.

We welcome the investigations, and it's telling that it comes after last week's compliance workshops, when gatekeepers were invited by the EU to answer questions on their compliance plans from stakeholders (but not from the EU themselves).

Certainly, in the case of Apple, we found their responses to questions to be just that: responses, rather than answers. See for yourself! Our very own John Ozbay asked why a user who selects Firefox from the browser choice screen will still see Safari in the 'hot seat' position.

Apple's legal team respond by telling us how customisable the home screen is. But they forget to tell us why they continue to give Safari the hot seat, rather than promote Firefox after the user chose it.

John then asks why there is no centralised system on iOS to change the default browser. He notes that each browser's setting page has the option to change the default browser, except for Safari's which does not offer a change default, and asks

we had thought that Apple would have fixed such a dark pattern prior to the DMA coming into force but in the latest version of iOS, it seems that it is still present. My question is, is Apple planning on addressing these or not?

Strangely, again, John's question is not answered. We are told that millions of people have changed their default browser (we know! choice is good!) and

we are complying from our perspective with the spirit here.

From our perspective, this is not complying.

This pattern of forgetting the question continues. John notes Apple's DMA compliance plan includes a Browser Entitlement Contract full of legal traps for competing browsers, effectively making it impossible for competing browser vendors to sign the contract and ship their browser engines on iOS for their EU users. John asked

Will you at least make them minimally viable in the EU by enabling browsers to ship their own engines under a single app ID and rewrite your contract so that they're both reasonable and compliant with the DMA?

Apple's reply was that the changes required under the DMA are "a very massive complicated engineering effort". We don't doubt that; luckily, Apple employs very talented engineers and probably has enough money in the bank to employ a few more.

But after this uplifting tale of Herculean efforts undergone in Cupertino, John's questions were not answered–even after another questionner asked

Is it admissible that I give my speaking time back to refer to the questions that the colleagues from the Open Web Advocacy had asked about the contracts and the possibility that those are incompatible with DMA, because those haven't been answered at all?

Another workshop attendee and John asked whether Apple would abide by the DMA and allow Progressive Web Apps (in Apple parlance, Home Screen Apps) to use third-party engines.

Amazingly, the Apple representatives forgot that a direct queston had been asked of them a mere 23 seconds previously, merely noting that Home Screen Apps will work "as before" (only with WebKit, so presumably: "no").

Towards the end of the workshop, John noted that Apple's 12 page compliance report was immensely lighter in detail than Microsoft's 421 pages or Google's 271 pages, and asked

does Apple honestly believe their 12-page document enables third parties like us to comprehensively assess whether they comply with all of the obligations laid down in the DMA?

This at least got a straight answer:

I think everyone in this room understands what Apple has done to comply with the DMA. So I think we've accomplished our goal there.

Sadly, however, not everyone in the room understood what Apple has done to comply with the DMA, hence today's announcement.

Ultimately, of course, our hope is that the investigations don't take 12 months and result in fines.

The better outcome would be for Apple to acknowledge that their initial compliance plans do not come near to meeting the intent of the DMA, and for them to re-think and submit detailed plans, with timings, on how they will provide customers with a fair, genuine browser choice.

We would also like to understand if, how and when Apple intends to fix their ridiculous and clearly non-compliant contractual terms that make it as Mozilla put it "as painful as possible" for browser vendors to port their real browsers to iOS.