When someone buys an iPhone or iPad today, the devices come preloaded with a bunch of their own apps. A new set of invoices could change that.
The way Apple it distributes its own applications on the iPhone and the iPad could be changing in the very near future. Thanks to bipartisan bills being developed by the US Congress, Apple could face a future where it has to stop pre-installing some of its most popular apps.
In recent months, Apple has been brought under the antitrust spotlight like never before, in large part thanks to the company’s ongoing trial with Epic Games. Epic has been using its lawsuit to demonstrate Apple’s anti-competitive nature – specifically, how it forces developers to distribute software through the App Store and then takes a 30 percent cut on top of that. Epic also revealed documents showing that Apple chose not to bring iMessage to Android from within the app. “It is equivalent to a serious confinement”. It all amounts to Apple actively forcing people to use their own first-person services rather than third-party ones, and it’s a problem that the folks on Capitol Hill don’t take very lightly.
As first reported by Bloomberg, Democratic Rep. David Cicilline is leading a new proposal that aims to end the way Apple distributes its own applications on iPhone and iPad. There are a few different parts to this proposal, and the most important one requires Apple to stop pre-installing source apps for which there are third-party alternatives in the App Store. The idea is that if Apple Music is pre-installed on an iPhone and Spotify is not, then people are more likely to use Apple Music as it is already there. As Cicilline says, “It would be just as easy to download the other five apps like Apple’s, so [Apple] not to use their dominance of the market to favor their own products and services “.
What could this mean for iPhone and iPad users
If these bills are approved, and that’s a big yes, what would that mean for iPhone and iPad users? For one thing, there would be far fewer Apple apps pre-installed on devices right out of the box. Things like Apple Music, Apple Maps, and Apple News would still be available, but users would have to download them from the App Store instead of being available once set up.
There are some pros and cons that would come with a move like this. From an antitrust perspective, Apple would be on a much more even playing field than it is today. There are many great news apps on the App Store, but since iPhone users receive Apple News by default, they may never dare to look for alternatives. Of course, there is nothing stopping people from doing that now, but that Apple can give its own applications greater visibility over its competitors is something that Congress clearly wants to address.
On the other hand, even if this bill passes and Apple must stop pre-installing some of its apps, it’s hard to say how much of an impact it will actually have. It may be another step for people to use Apple apps on their iPhones and iPads, but people who are already using Apple Music and Apple News are not going to magically stop using the services because they are not pre-installed in their next update. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week in which these bills will be formalized, and you can bet that Apple will do everything it can to fight back.
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