Apple's iPadOS now subject to EU's Digital Markets Act after 'Gatekeeper' designation

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Key notes

  • Tech giant must comply with EU fair competition rules within six months or face potential fines
Apple iPadOS

The European Commission has tightened regulations on Apple by designating its iPadOS tablet operating system as a “gatekeeper” under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). This ruling requires Apple to ensure fair competition within its iPad ecosystem within six months.

The DMA conducted a year-long investigation into whether iPadOS, despite not meeting the quantitative thresholds set by the organization, serves as a critical access point for businesses to reach consumers.

Key Findings from the EU Investigation:

Apple’s dominant iPadOS market share and integrated ecosystem create a Market Lock-In. The company effectively traps both business users and regular folks with their stranglehold on the market. The platform is essential for businesses, especially in specific segments like gaming applications, due to the crazy number of iPad users.

In September 2023, Apple was designated as a gatekeeper for its iOS, Safari browser, and App Store. This ruling further expands upon that designation. The DMA aims to level the digital playing field by targeting tech giants with the power to create bottlenecks for competitors and obstacles for their rivals. This represents the EU’s first-ever qualitative investigation under the DMA.

The Digital Markets Act is a dynamic tool which allows us to tackle the realities of digital markets. Today, we have brought Apple’s iPadOS within the scope of the DMA obligations. 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. Apple has six months to make iPadOS compliant with the DMA. – Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy

Today we conclude the first market investigation for qualitative designation under the DMA finding that also iPadOS is an important gateway for businesses to reach consumers. Apple has now six months to comply with the DMA obligations. We continue monitoring market developments and will not hesitate to open new investigations should other services below the thresholds present characteristics to be considered important gateways for business users. – Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market