The European Commission Designates iPadOS as Gatekeeper Service

The European Commission has recently made a significant decision regarding Apple’s iPad operating system, designating it as a Gatekeeper service under its flagship Digital Markets Act (DMA) rules. This decision comes after an almost eight-month investigation into whether iPadOS holds enough market power to warrant stricter regulation.

According to the Commission’s statement, iPadOS is considered an important gateway for business users to reach end users, and Apple holds a strong position with respect to the operating system. As a result of this designation, Apple now has six months to ensure full compliance with the DMA obligations as applied to iPadOS. Failure to comply could result in fines of up to 10 percent of Apple’s global revenue.

Under the DMA, iPadOS will now have to adhere to a broad range of rules, including allowing users in Europe to download apps from outside the Apple App Store, uninstall preloaded apps, and select default services like browsers from choice screens. The Commission’s investigation found that iPadOS users are locked into the platform, with business users exceeding the gatekeeper threshold by a significant margin.

It is worth noting that Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, Safari browser, and App Store were already designated as Gatekeeper services under the DMA in September 2023. While some compliance changes have been made to iOS, most of them have not been extended to iPadOS. This inconsistency raises questions about the company’s approach to regulatory compliance and the potential impact on users.

The designation of iPadOS as a Gatekeeper service is another crack in the walled garden of Apple’s ecosystem. While some services like iMessage have been spared from DMA compliance, the latest ruling on iPadOS highlights the increasing scrutiny of Apple’s practices by regulatory authorities. This decision comes at a crucial time, just before Apple’s next event where new iPads are expected to be unveiled.

The European Commission’s decision to designate iPadOS as a Gatekeeper service has significant implications for Apple and its users. The company now faces increased regulatory oversight and must ensure compliance with the DMA rules within the specified timeframe. This development underscores the growing focus on big tech companies and their market dominance, highlighting the need for greater transparency and accountability in the digital landscape.

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