EU Antitrust Chief Criticizes Apple for Withholding Features

EU Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager criticized Apple for its decision not to launch some new features in the EU, calling it a “stunning declaration” of the company’s anti-competitive practices.

Apple announced on June 21 that its “Apple Intelligence” AI suite and iPhone mirroring features would not be available to European users at launch due to concerns about the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). The DMA aims to promote fair competition in the digital market by placing obligations on large gatekeeper companies like Apple. Apple was also the first company to be charged with violating DMA.

Vestager argued that Apple’s decision to withhold features specific to its ecosystem contradicts the spirit of the DMA, which encourages open competition. She pointed out that Apple is seemingly comfortable deploying these features where it doesn’t face competition requirements.

So Apple has said that they will not launch their new enabled features in the IRS environment, and they say that they will not do that because of the obligations that they have in Europe. And the obligations that they have in Europe, it is to be open for competition, that is sort of the short version of the DMA.

And I find it very interesting that they say we will now deploy AI where we’re not obliged to enable competition. I think that is the most sort of stunning, open declaration that they know 100% that this is another way of disabling competition, where they have a stronghold already.

said Vestager

Apple maintains its commitment to bringing the features to the EU but expressed concerns that DMA’s interoperability requirements could compromise user privacy and data security.

For example, iPhone mirroring uses Device Attestation, a function that verifies user identity and device authenticity. According to Apple, adapting this feature to work with non-Apple devices can cause security challenges. Apple used the same statement a while ago when they revealed that they tried making the Apple Watch work with Androids but dropped the project because of similar challenges and spent 3 years on it.

Notably, the DMA doesn’t mandate feature parity between regions; Apple is not obligated to offer features identical to those in the EU as in other markets.

This is not the first instance of friction between the EU and Apple.

More here.

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