Apple aggressively defended its ecosystem in a recently published response to the UK’s competition watchdog.
The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today published Apple’s response to his Interim Report on Mobile Ecosystemsas well as responses from dozens of other companiesincluding Google, Microsoft and Epic Games.
Apple’s detailed 47-page response aggressively dismissed the findings of the interim report, saying the CMA dismissed Apple’s ecosystem benefits “without a reasoned basis, either by ignoring them entirely or by dismissing them based on nothing more than speculation.” Apple alleged that the CMA report is based on “unsubstantiated allegations and hypothetical concerns” of Apple’s rivals who would benefit commercially from “profound” changes on iPhone:
…the IR draws conclusions about technologies, product design, and impact on competition from unsubstantiated claims and hypothetical concerns raised primarily through self-serving complaints from a handful of multi-billion dollar developers such as Microsoft, Facebook, Match, Spotify, and Epic, all seeking to make sweeping changes to the iPhone for their own commercial gain, without independent verification.
Apple has expressed serious concerns about the possibility of having to “redesign the iPhone” for the benefit of this small powerful group:
Apple is deeply concerned that IR is offering solutions to hypothetical problems that will lead to real-life market interventions that could force it to redesign the iPhone for the benefit of a handful of powerful developers. The IR seems to assume that the changes he is proposing would be relatively straightforward. Yet many would need a complete overhaul of a product that has been around for 15 years, has been constantly improved through Apple’s investment in intellectual property, and is loved and trusted by millions of consumers.
The CMA’s proposal to allow alternative app stores on the iPhone or sideloading was rejected to “minimize security risks” and ignore “the fact that users place great importance on this security and that many choose Apple over Android based on this”.
Remedies that undermine Apple’s holistic approach to security would effectively remove the competitive differentiation between Apple and Android, taking away that valuable element of choice from users.
Apple addressed specific issues raised by the interim report, such as the company’s WebKit restriction on iOS and iPadOS, which prohibits any competing browser engine on the platform. He asserted that WebKit is innovative and meets feature demand, such as adding “new features to enable better features and functionality for web applications.”
Open Web Advocacy, a group of web developers who are in talks with the CMA and who brought Apple’s WebKit restriction to light, disagrees and says that “Apple’s banning of third-party browsers on iOS is deeply anti-competitive… All artificial barriers placed by gatekeepers must be removed.If allowed, web applications can offer equivalent functionality with greater privacy and security for demanding use cases.
Apple highlighted the high level of customer satisfaction, ease of use and performance of the iPhone, as well as the company’s commitment to innovation and privacy. Apple rejected the findings of the interim report and ruled out discussing changes to the company’s ecosystem.
…the IR’s findings are, in fact, nothing more than speculation about how Apple’s ecosystem “might” have the “potential” to harm competition, given that they have not been tested and are based on one-sided evidence. Such assumptions are insufficient to warrant, let alone support, the discussion of potentially radical remedies at this point…
Apple urged the CMA to “undertake a deeper analysis of the benefits Apple’s ecosystem brings to consumers and developers, and to objectively consider the ramifications of any proposed interventions on consumers and competition in the markets that would be impacted.” “. For more information, see Apple’s full response to the CMA.