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Apple’s iPadOS is a ‘gatekeeper’ in Europe: Here’s what it means for the company and users – Times of India



Apple’s iPadOS has been designated as a ‘gatekeeper’ in the European Union, which means that the operating system will be subject to the provisions under the Digital Market Act (DMA) that aims to regulate tech companies for fair competition and protect the openness of digital services.
Last year, the European Commission designated Apple as a gatekeeper for its iOS, Safari browser and App Store.The Commission announced a probe to assess whether Apple’s iPadOS constitutes an important gateway for business users to reach end users.
According to the rules, any service offered by the company that meets certain criteria are gatekeeper designated:

  • They have a market value of at least EUR 75 billion (approximately $82 billion), and
  • Either own a social platform or app that is used by at least 45 million people every month or have at least 10,000 active business users.

Apple said at that time that the iPadOS does not meet the quantitative thresholds laid down in the DMA, which meant that it should be designated as a gatekeeper.
“On the basis of the findings of the investigation, the Commission concluded that iPadOS constitutes an important gateway for business users to reach end users, and that Apple enjoys an entrenched and durable position with respect to iPadOS,” a statement from the Commission said.
Apple now has six months to comply with the DMA obligations, said Thierry Breton, commissioner for internal market. This means that just like iOS, Apple will now have to open access to its closed ecosystem for iPadOS.

Three points the Commission highlighted to designate iPadOS as gatekeeper

The Commission said that in the investigation, it found that Apple presents the features of a gatekeeper in relation to iPadOS:

  • 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.
  • Secondly, the commission said that end users are locked-in to iPadOS, adding that Apple leverages its ecosystem to disincentivise end users from switching to other operating systems for tablets.
  • Thirdly, as per the Commission, 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.

“Our market investigation showed that despite not meeting the thresholds, iPadOS constitutes an important gateway on which many companies rely to reach their customers. Today’s decision will ensure that fairness and contestability are preserved also on this platform, in addition to the 22 other services we designated last September,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president in charge of competition policy.

What it means for users in Europe

The companies or services designated as ‘gatekeepers’ in Europe are required to allow interoperability under the DMA. This means that ‘gatekeepers’ must allow other companies’ services to work with theirs, allowing users to choose the apps that they want to use on any device.
As per the tech rules, gatekeepers can’t favour their own products or services in search results or rankings. Thirdly, developers creating apps for gatekeepers’ app stores won’t be forced to use the platform’s payment systems or other services, allowing for more choice and potentially lower fees for both developers and users.

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