iPad is now forced to ‘open up’ like iPhone, but only for some — here’s why from Mashable

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By now, you’ve likely heard that mobile software developers no longer have to go through Apple’s App Store in the EU in order to distribute their apps on the iPhone. In addition, Apple also now has to allow “alternative marketplaces” (i.e., third parties) run App Stores on the iPhone.

This was all possible due to a new EU law that went into effect called the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The DMA classifies certain Big Tech companies’ platforms as “gatekeepers,” and in order to spur competition, the DMA requires that big corporations open up these gatekeeper platforms to third parties.

According to the EU, it’s now classifying the iPad operating system, iPadOS, as a “gatekeeper.” This means that all those changes that Apple was forced to make in the EU to open up the iPhone’s iOS will soon have to be made to iPadOS as well.

Why is iPadOS now classified as a ‘gatekeeper’?

The European Commission opened an investigation into whether the iPadOS should be labeled as a “gatekeeper” in September, on the same day it classified iOS as one.

The EU opened the investigation into the iPadOS “despite not meeting the quantitative thresholds laid down in the DMA” because it “constitutes an important gateway for business users to reach end users and therefore should be designated as a gatekeeper,” according to Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s Executive Vice President in charge of competition policy.

According to the DMA, a platform receives a “gatekeeper” classification if its annual revenue is more than €7.5 billion or has a market cap of more than €75 billion. Its core platform must be provided to at least three EU member states. In addition, the platform must have more than 45 million monthly active users and more than 10,000 active annual business users all residing within the EU.

The EU says its investigation determined that iPasOS’s business users “exceeded the quantitative threshold elevenfold, while it’s end user numbers were close to the threshold and are predicted to rise in the near future.” It also says that its decision was made due to both end users and business users being “locked-in to iPad OS” and this “disincentivizes users from switching to other operating systems” on other tablets.

According to the EU, Apple now has six months to ensure that the iPadOS complies with the DMA. 

But even then, based on how Apple changed iOS, there’s a chance there will be additional investigations to follow. Shortly after other tech companies like Microsoft and Spotify criticized Apple’s DMA-based iOS changes, the EU launched an investigation into whether Apple’s new “DMA-compliant” iOS policies are actually DMA-compliant.

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