EU takes a sledgehammer to Apple's walled garden

Tu Tsui-Shan; Samuel Howarth, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: AFP

With a mountain of anti-trust lawsuits and monopoly-killing legislation on the horizon, things are getting rotten for Apple.

The outcome of the ongoing antitrust litigation between the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Apple is several years away. However, Apple users can still get a glimpse of potential future changes from the related rulings by the European Union (EU).

Yahoo Finance reported that the US government has filed lawsuits against Apple to prevent its monopoly behavior in areas such as streaming, instant messaging, and digital payments. These lawsuits aim to prevent Apple from signing monopolistic contracts with developers, accessory manufacturers, and consumers.

EU regulatory authorities have also filed multiple antitrust lawsuits against Apple and imposed strict regulations. It is understood that European Apple users will soon feel the impact of these legal skirmishes.

Apple's music streaming service policy will be the first area to transform. Previously, Apple had strict restrictions on other music streaming services besides Apple Music.

Users of services like Spotify could not directly pay subscription fees through the app on their iPhones or receive promotional messages from these services via email. The EU has fined Apple EUR1.8 billion (US$1.9 billion) for this behavior.

In 2022, the EU accused Apple of abusing its position in the market by restricting mobile payment services on devices. In response Apple proposed to open up the "Tap and Go" payment feature for third-party mobile wallets and payment services to use on iOS systems.

The EU is still considering this proposal. It will seek the opinions of other stakeholders.

For a long time, iPhones and other iOS devices only allowed the existence of the Apple App Store, restricting end users from using third-party app stores. This strategy has become known as Apple's walled garden.

Under the newly proposed Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the EU, Apple will be required to open up its app ecosystem to allow third-party app stores to compete.

Under the new legislation, European consumers can download iPhone apps from stores outside the Apple App Store.