Daniel Eran Dilger has a must-read article, “Is Apple’s App Store a monopoly or a solution?,” at AppleInsider. It sums up my feelings perfectly: the UK and US governments are interfering in matters they have no business meddling with.
In the UK, the government wants to pre-approve tech firms’ security features. Apple says it’s a bad idea — and it is.
Under the proposed amendments to existing laws, if the UK Home Office declined an update, it then couldn’t be released in any other country, and the public would not be informed. The government is seeking to update the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016.
The Home Office said it supported privacy-focused tech but added that it also had to keep the country safe, according to the BBC. The proposed changes will be debated in the House of Lords tomorrow. Apple says it is an “unprecedented overreach” by the UK government.
“We’re deeply concerned the proposed amendments to the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) now before Parliament place users’ privacy and security at risk,” the tech giant said in a statement. “It’s an unprecedented overreach by the government and, if enacted, the UK could attempt to secretly veto new user protections globally preventing us from ever offering them to customers.”
Also in the UK, Apple has been forced to iOS, Safari, and the App Store impacting developers’ apps in the European Union (EU) to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The tech giant says the new options for processing payments and downloading apps on iOS open new avenues for malware, fraud and scams, illicit and harmful content, and other privacy and security threats.
That’s why the company is introducing protections — including Notarization for iOS apps, an authorization for marketplace developers, and disclosures on alternative payments — to reduce risks and deliver the best, most secure experience possible for users in the EU. Howevr, even with these safeguards in place, many risks remain, Apple notes.
In the US, the government is expected to file an antitrust lawsuit accusing Apple of being a monopoly. And the governments in other countries are expected to jump on the monopoly lawsuit bandwagon.
I’m a proponent of “the less government the better.” The meddling of the UK and US government in Apple’s business is only going to cause problems in the long run. Bet on it.
Besides, I’m not aware of many consumers asking for major changes to the company’s way of doing business. It’s just Apple competitors whining because they make their business models work as well as the Mac/iPhone/iPad/Vision Pro/Apple Watch maker.
As Daniel points out, most governments can’t balance their own budgets, so why do they think they can “fix” Apple?
“Why trust in capitalism and its exchange of supply and demand on a level playing field when you can imagine that magic solutions will happen, and this can all be ostensibly done at somebody else’s expense?” Daniel writes. “In the tech industry, this kind of shallow-thought populism has regularly predicted the death of Apple for not voluntarily doing what they demand, while also predicting horrible consequences if Apple is not forced to do what they want by big governments.”
Apple is also being portrayed as an evil and conniving monopolist exercising oppressive control over its App Stores for iPhones, iPads and of course, the upcoming Apple Vision Pro.
“Just like a lot of other problems that don’t exist, politicians are racing to offer ‘solutions’ to Apple’s creation of the safest, most productive, and largest level playing field of a platform to ever exist in the history of computing,” Daniel writes. “These ideas have little support among many of Apple’s actual developers outside of a few billionaires and their demands to make even more money by having Apple forced to subsidize their operations.”
So my advice to pity-me companies like Spotify is improve your own products and services. And my advice to the UK, US, and other global governments: until you show you have the brains and expertise to fix many of your own country’s issues, leave companies like Apple alone until/if they pose a real threat. Besides, I’m guessing that most politicians are just jumping on a bandwagon because being against monopolies sounds very noble.
Or, as Daniel writes: “Perhaps governments breaking up “a big monopoly” to introduce smaller solutions that don’t really result in functional markets but only make things worse is not the best solution, and the real solution is to enable, new competitive markets that earn their own customers.”