Surge in users for EU independent browsers following DMA implementation

The Digital Markets Act, which aims to eliminate unfair competition, forces big tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple to offer mobile users the option to switch to rival browsers.

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Independent browser companies within the EU are reporting significant increases in user numbers following the implementation of new EU legislation to foster fair competition among tech giants. The Digital Markets Act (DMA), effective on 7 March, requires major players like Google, Microsoft, and Apple to present mobile users with a ‘choice screen’ where they can opt for alternative web browsers. Before this regulation, default browsers like Chrome for Android and Safari for iPhones dominated the market, providing free services in exchange for user tracking and targeted advertising.

Since the new rules came into effect, companies like Cyprus-based Aloha Browser have experienced a 250% surge in the EU users. Aloha, known for its privacy-focused approach, has seen its EU market ranking rise from fourth to second place. Similarly, other companies like Vivaldi from Norway, Ecosia from Germany, and Brave from the US have also noted increased user numbers following the regulatory changes. DuckDuckGo and Opera, with substantial global user bases, are also witnessing growth within the EU due to the choice screen.

Why does it matter?

Under the DMA, mobile device manufacturers are required to present users with a selection of browsers, search engines, and virtual assistants during device setup. Apple, for instance, now displays up to 11 browser options alongside Safari in the choice screens tailored for each EU country, updating them annually. However, companies like Mozilla have criticised the rollout as slow and clunky, hindering the migration of users to alternative browsers. The European Commission has initiated an investigation into Apple’s compliance with the new rules, particularly focusing on whether users have genuine freedom to choose alternative services beyond defaults like Safari.