EU designates Apple’s iPadOS as a gatekeeper under DMA

This designation aims to ensure fair markets in the digital sector and regulate gatekeepers.

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The European Commission has taken another giant step in digital regulation by designating Apple’s iPadOS as a gatekeeper under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The legal measure follows an investigation into Apple’s ecosystem, which found that iPadOS plays a crucial role as a gateway for business users to reach end consumers despite failing to meet initial quantitative thresholds. The Commission’s findings indicate that Apple’s large ecosystem effectively locks end users and business users into iPadOS, discouraging them from switching to other tablet operating systems. As a result, Apple has been given six months to ensure full compliance of iPadOS with DMA obligations.

The DMA, aimed at fostering fair and contestable markets in the digital sector, focuses on regulating gatekeepers — large digital platforms that serve as vital gateways between businesses and consumers. This designation carries significant implications, as gatekeepers possess the potential to create bottlenecks in the digital economy due to their entrenched positions. The Commission’s decision regarding iPadOS represents the first market investigation conducted under the DMA rules, which were initiated with a best-endeavour deadline of 12 months to conclude based on qualitative criteria.

In addition to Apple, the European Commission has designated other tech giants like Alphabet, Amazon, Meta, and Microsoft as gatekeepers. These companies were required to comply fully with DMA obligations by 7 March 2024. However, the Commission has opened investigations into alleged non-compliance by Alphabet and Meta, focusing on issues such as self-preferencing and steering within their platforms. Furthermore, recent notifications from Booking, ByteDance, and X suggest potential inclusion under the DMA rules, indicating ongoing scrutiny and expansion of regulatory measures within the EU’s digital landscape.

Why does it matter?

The Commission’s proactive stance depicts the evolving nature of digital regulation and the imperative to maintain fair and competitive digital markets. As it continues to assess compliance and investigate potential violations, the Commission remains committed to ensuring that gatekeepers adhere to DMA obligations, fostering an environment conducive to innovation and consumer choice within the digital ecosystem.