EU Targets iPadOS as a Major Digital Gatekeeper in New Tech Regulations European Union regulators have classified iPadOS as a significant digital gatekeeper under new legislation aimed at ensuring fair competition and broadening consumer choices.

The European Union’s antitrust authorities on Monday finalized their designation of Apple’s iPadOS as a key digital gatekeeper under the bloc’s stringent tech regulations, the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

This move follows last September’s declaration, which identified Apple’s iOS, Safari browser, and App Store as gatekeepers due to their pivotal role in the digital marketplace.

The decision came after a thorough market investigation initiated last year to determine whether iPadOS should be similarly classified. The investigation concluded that iPadOS indeed qualifies as a gatekeeper for several reasons.

Notably, Apple’s numbers of business users exceed the set quantitative threshold significantly, with end user figures also approaching the threshold and expected to grow.

This positions iPadOS as a crucial platform for business users, particularly in sectors like gaming apps, where it holds substantial market influence.

A major finding from the EU’s investigation highlighted the issue of user lock-in, where both end users and business users find it difficult to switch to other operating systems. Apple’s expansive ecosystem plays a key role in discouraging transitions away from iPadOS, effectively limiting competition.

Under the DMA’s requirements, Apple is now obligated to make significant adjustments to iPadOS. These changes are anticipated to include the introduction of alternative app marketplaces and browsers, ensuring a more competitive environment. Apple has been given a six-month window to align iPadOS with these new regulations.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy, stated: “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”.

To be classified as a gatekeeper under the DMA, entities must meet specific criteria, including significant sales or market capitalization in the EU, alongside substantial user bases of over 45 million monthly active users and more than 10,000 annual business users within the EU.

This classification of iPadOS alongside other major digital platforms like those of Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft, which were also designated and were required to fully comply with all DMA requirements by March 7, underscores the EU’s commitment to regulating the digital market landscape aggressively.

Companies failing to comply with the DMA face rigorous investigations and severe financial penalties, which helps to ensure they meet their obligations to foster a fair and competitive digital market.

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