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Apple’s iPadOS will also be required to adhere to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act

Today, the Commission announced that it will extend its prominent regulations on market fairness and competition to Apple’s iPadOS within the European Union. By including its tablet ecosystem, Apple’s decision to expand the number of platforms regulated under the Digital Markets Act (DMA) to four increases the regulatory risk for the tech giant.

Apple must ensure that iPadOS is in compliance with the DMA within a six-month timeframe.

The development may necessitate substantial modifications to Apple’s operations in the EU regarding the tablet platform. The company must ensure its compliance with a range of DMA mandates, including the prohibition of “gatekeepers” favoring their own services, the obligation to allow third-party app stores and the sideloading of apps, as well as the requirement to support third-party payment options.

Within the next six months, Apple should allow access to Safari on iPadOS for non-WebKit versions, just as it has already done on iOS. App developers who engage with customers through iPadOS will possess a lawful entitlement to FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) conditions.

In the previous autumn, the Commission classified Apple’s mobile platform iOS, App Store, and Safari browser as being subject to the DMA’s prescribed set of initial “dos and don’ts.” The regime imposes stringent penalties for any infractions, amounting to as much as 10% of the global annual turnover or even higher for repeated offenses.

Subsequently, Apple has declared a sequence of modifications to its operational procedures for the platforms in the region. However, certain elements of its reaction to the DMA are presently being examined due to a suspected failure to comply. Last month, the Commission initiated the first round of official investigations into the DMA.

The European Union’s initial DMA designations last year did not include Apple’s tablet operating system due to insufficient user numbers that did not meet the required threshold. Nevertheless, the regulation grants the Commission flexibility to also take into account qualitative factors when tech giants maintain a dominant and lasting position. This is an occurrence in this particular instance.

According to the Commission’s investigation, the number of business users of iPadOS is eleven times higher than the threshold. Additionally, the number of end users is “close” to the threshold and is expected to increase in the near future.

The investigation also discovered that both end users and business users are effectively compelled to use iPadOS, with limited alternatives. “Apple utilizes its extensive ecosystem to discourage end users from transitioning to alternative operating systems for tablets,” it stated. “Business users are compelled to use iPadOS due to its substantial and commercially appealing user base, as well as its significance in specific scenarios, such as gaming applications.”

The Commission stated that although iPadOS does not meet the specific quantitative requirements outlined in the DMA, it still serves as a crucial intermediary for business users to connect with end users. Therefore, the Commission believes that iPadOS should be classified as a gatekeeper.

Apple issued a written statement in response to the designation of iPadOS, stating that they will actively cooperate with the European Commission to ensure compliance with the DMA for all designated services. We will continue to prioritize providing the highest quality products and services to our European customers while also addressing the potential privacy and data security risks introduced by the DMA for our users.

The Commission had allocated a period of 12 months to conduct an investigation into iPadOS. The review was initiated by the body immediately after announcing the first DMA designations, and it took approximately eight months to complete this qualitative examination of the tablet platform. The Commission has confirmed that this is the initial and sole market investigation it has conducted since the initiation of the DMA.

In a prior ruling in February, the European Union (EU) determined that Apple’s iMessage would not be classified under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), thereby exempting the company from the requirement to ensure compatibility of its messaging system with other platforms.

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