EU Commission Labels Apple’s iPadOS a ‘Gatekeeper’ Under the DMA

The EU Commission has ruled that Apple's iPadOS is a gatekeeper under the Digital Markets Act, alongside iOS, Safari, and the App Store....
EU Commission Labels Apple’s iPadOS a ‘Gatekeeper’ Under the DMA
Written by Matt Milano
  • The EU Commission has ruled that Apple’s iPadOS is a gatekeeper under the Digital Markets Act, alongside iOS, Safari, and the App Store.

    Under the DMA, products and services that meet certain criteria can be labeled gatekeepers and forced to abide by certain rules. Gatekeepers must take steps to ensure interoperability with rival services, not push their own apps and services over competing option, and more.

    The EU had already determined that iOS, Safari, and the App Store met the criteria to be classified as gatekeepers, but there was question as to whether iPadOS should be classified as such, given that iPads are not nearly as popular as iPhones. The EU acknowledged that iPadOS does not quite meet the quantitative thresholds to be classified as a gatekeeper, but it did meet the other criteria, including:

    • Apple’s business user numbers exceeded the quantitative threshold elevenfold, while its end user numbers were close to the threshold and are predicted to rise in the near future.
    • End users are locked-in to iPadOS. Apple leverages its large ecosystem to disincentivise end users from switching to other operating systems for tablets.
    • Business users are locked-in to iPadOS because of its large and commercially attractive user base, and its importance for certain use cases, such as gaming apps.

    “The Digital Markets Act is a dynamic tool which allows us to tackle the realities of digital markets,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy. “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.

    “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,” said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market. “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.

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