EU could force third-party app stores on Apple after USB-C iPhone mandate
After the EU passed the Digital Markets Act this past summer, the new legislation officially went into effect at the beginning of November. While we’ve previously heard of the potential consequences, an EU official has reiterated that we could see Apple forced to open up the iPhone to third-party app stores and more.
The new comments from veteran EU official Gerard de Graaf (via Wired) come just after the European Parliament’s Council of Ministers ratified the vote that will mandate iPhone moves to USB-C before long.
While the writing has been on the wall that the Digital Markets Act (DMA) could force Apple to open up iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to third-party app stores, de Graaf confirmed the intention again.
“If you have an iPhone, you should be able to download apps not just from the App Store but from other app stores or from the internet,” de Graaf says, in a conference room with emerald green accents at the Irish consulate in San Francisco , where the EU’s office is initially located.
He also shared that “We expect the consequences to be significant.”
When will Apple make changes in the EU?
Even though the DMA is now in effect in the EU, Apple and the other tech giants won’t have to make changes immediately. There will be tiers for which regulations included in the DMA will apply to which companies. But Apple will almost certainly be in the “gatekeeper” tier which will see the most stringent rules.
The EU will announce the tier each company lands in next spring and then six months will be given for them to make changes for compliance.
Along with the major potential change of forcing Apple to open up iPhone to third-party app stores, the DMA also looks to prevent big tech from giving unfair preference to their own apps and services.
Big tech will also have to soon comply with the other approved piece of legislation outside the EU, the Digital Services Act. However, that likely won’t be as impactful to Apple as the Digital Markets Act.
De Graaf argues that tougher rules for tech giants are needed not only to help protect people and other businesses from unfair practices, but to allow society to receive the full benefits of technology. He has been critical of a nonbinding AI Bill of Rights recently released by the White House, saying that a lack of firm regulation can undermine the public’s confidence in technology. “If our citizens lose trust in AI because they believe it discriminates against them and leads to outcomes that are harmful to their lives,” he says, “they are going to shun AI, and it will never be successful.”
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