Apple Clashes With UK Regulator in Fierce Response to Warning That Could Require It to 'Redesign the iPhone'

Apple has aggressively defended its ecosystem in a newly-published response to the UK's competition watchdog.

app store blue banner uk fixed
The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today published Apple's response to its Interim Report on mobile ecosystems, as well responses from dozens of other companies, including Google, Microsoft, and Epic Games.

The detailed 47-page response from Apple aggressively dismissed the conclusions of the Interim Report, saying that the CMA has set the benefits of Apple's ecosystem aside "without reasoned basis, either ignoring them entirely or dismissing them on the basis of nothing more than speculation." Apple alleged that the CMA's report is based on "unsubstantiated allegations and hypothetical concerns" from Apple's rivals that would commercially gain from "deep" changes to the iPhone:

... the IR reaches conclusions about technologies, product design, and competitive impact derived from the unsubstantiated allegations and hypothetical concerns raised primarily by self-serving complaints from a handful of multi-billion dollar developers such as Microsoft, Facebook, Match, Spotify, and Epic, all seeking to make deep changes to the iPhone for their own commercial gain, without independent verification.

Apple expressed intense concerns about potentially having to "redesign the ‌iPhone‌" to benefit this small, powerful group:

Apple is deeply concerned that the IR is proposing solutions to hypothetical problems that will result in real-world market interventions that could force it to redesign the iPhone to benefit a handful of powerful developers. The IR appears to assume that its proposed changes would be relatively simple. Yet many would require a complete re-architecting of a product that has existed for 15 years, has been constantly improved by Apple’s investment in IP and is valued and trusted by millions of consumers.

The CMA's proposition to allow alternative app stores on the ‌iPhone‌ or sideloading was shot down for "downplaying the security risks" and failing to account for "the fact that users highly value that security, and that many choose Apple over Android on that basis."

Remedies that jeopardize Apple's holistic approach to security would effectively remove the competitive differentiation between Apple and Android, taking this valued element of choice away from users.

Apple addressed specific issues raised by the Interim Report, such as the company's WebKit restriction on iOS and iPadOS, which bans any rival browser engines on the platform. It claimed that WebKit is innovative and responds to demand for features, such as adding "new functionality to enable greater features and functionality for web apps."

Open Web Advocacy, a group of web developers who are in talks with the CMA and have raised the profile of Apple's WebKit restriction, disagree and say that "Apple's ban of third party browsers on iOS is deeply anti-competitive... All artificial barriers placed by gatekeepers must be removed. Web Apps if allowed can offer equivalent functionality with greater privacy and security for demanding use-cases."

Apple highlighted the ‌iPhone‌'s high level of customer satisfaction, ease of use, and performance, as well as the company's commitment to innovation and privacy. Apple dismissed the findings of the Interim Report and ruled out the potential for discussion of changes to the company's ecosystem.

...the findings in the IR are, in effect, nothing more than hypotheses about how Apple's ecosystem "may" have the "potential" to harm competition, being as they are untested and based on one-sided evidence. Such hypotheses are insufficient to warrant, never mind support, discussion of potentially radical remedies at this stage...

Apple urged the CMA to "undertake a more fulsome analysis of the benefits that Apple's ecosystem brings to both consumers and developers, and to consider objectively 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.

Top Rated Comments

Danfango Avatar
26 months ago
As a UK consumer, CMA do not represent what I want from my device. If I wanted the compromises removed I would be using an Android device.

The CMA complaint only intends to open the market to abusive companies with poor security, subscription and ethical considerations.
Score: 91 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cloudphrenia Avatar
26 months ago
I will never understand how consumers could support these attacks on iOS. Android phones are available everywhere, and come in all shapes and sizes. Why wouldn’t you just go buy your dream Android phone and enjoy your “open” OS and leave us alone? Why do you have to encourage government goons to ruin iOS for the rest of us?
Score: 84 Votes (Like | Disagree)
california_kid Avatar
26 months ago
Does UK require all citizens use iPhones? If it's up to each citizen, can't the citizens just say no if they don't like Apple's policies?
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kissmo1980 Avatar
26 months ago
I’m with Apple on this.
I am against them limiting some deeper OS customization though.
However, for me the customization is a 3 day miracle and I always end up to defaults.
?
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
buddhistMonkey Avatar
26 months ago

Also let me take this opportunity to remind folks that "side-loading" is just installing.
It isn't, though. Sideloading means bypassing the App Store and its inherent security measures, and that has wide-reaching ramifications for both Apple and iPhone owners.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mcnallym Avatar
26 months ago

As a UK consumer, CMA do not represent what I want from my device. If I wanted the compromises removed I would be using an Android device.

The CMA complaint only intends to open the market to abusive companies with poor security, subscription and ethical considerations.
This is precisely why I have Apple as well. I knew all of the limits when went in.
I have friends that are adamantly android and won’t touch an iPhone because of the Apple ecosystem.

If people don’t like the restrictions of the AppStore then don’t buy Apple products!

Don’t buy Apple products and then moan that I could do this on Android. buy an android phone then. Nothing you can do with am iPhone that cannot do on android. Apart from the obvious iOS apps but there will be equivalent app for android available.

I was fortunate that used to have two cars

Golf GTI for fun and Passat Estate for everyday.

When helped my niece move I used the Passat Estate as wanted the luggage space. I did not take my Golf and then moan that the luggage capacity was too small.

If you are a person that wants multiple app stores then buy a product that has them. It really is not that difficult.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

General Apps Messages

Apple Announces 'Groundbreaking' New Security Protocol for iMessage

Wednesday February 21, 2024 6:00 am PST by
Apple today announced a new post-quantum cryptographic protocol for iMessage called PQ3. Apple says this "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks." Apple believes the PQ3 protocol's protections "surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps," according to its blog post:Today we are announcing...
iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Monday February 19, 2024 6:52 am PST by
Apple last month confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU and Apple Podcasts transcripts. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay later this year. More details about the new...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

Six Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Thursday February 22, 2024 4:20 am PST by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models concurrently, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different, and already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
samsung galaxy ring

'Apple Ring' Allegedly in Development to Rival Samsung Galaxy Ring

Tuesday February 20, 2024 2:27 am PST by
Apple is speeding up development of a smart ring that can be worn on the finger to track users' health biometrics, claims a new report coming out of Korea. Teaser image of Samsung Galaxy Ring shown at Galaxy Unpacked in January Apple has toyed with the idea of a ring wearable for several years, as indicated by several patents, but with Samsung preparing to bring its own product to market, the ...
volvo s60 drivers apple maps

iOS 17.4 Beta Adds CarPlay Option to Show Upcoming Maneuvers in Instrument Cluster

Tuesday February 20, 2024 10:47 am PST by
The fourth beta of iOS 17.4 that Apple released today adds a new CarPlay feature, according to the notes that Apple provided to developers. In supported CarPlay vehicles, there's now an Apple Maps option to show information about upcoming maneuvers in the instrument cluster. CarPlay users will be able to swap the display type between the main and instrument cluster by tapping on the map...
Oled iPads and MackBook Pro Notch

Apple's OLED Roadmap: New iPad Mini, Foldable iPad Pro, and More

Wednesday February 21, 2024 5:29 am PST by
Apple is planning to launch at least nine new devices with OLED displays across the iPad and MacBook product lines, according to an updated forecast from research firm Omdia that sets out the company's plans in detail. As widely rumored, Apple's push to transition to OLED will apparently be jump-started by the release of new 11- and 13-inch iPad Pro models this year. The displays will...
iPad Pro OLED Feature 2

Apple's Upcoming OLED iPad Pro Models Rumored to Be Much Thinner

Tuesday February 20, 2024 1:39 pm PST by
Apple is planning to update the iPad Air and iPad Pro lineups as soon as March, and the new iPad Pro models will be significantly thinner according to dimensions shared by 9to5Mac. Citing sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, the site claims that the larger version will be more than 1mm thinner. The current 12.9-inch iPad Pro measures in at 6.4mm thick, but the new model is said to be 5mm ...
m3 macbook pro 14 16

Apple Now Selling Refurbished M3 Pro and M3 Max MacBook Pro Models

Monday February 19, 2024 5:04 pm PST by
Apple today began offering refurbished versions of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with M3 Pro and M3 Max chip options, offering the machines at a discount for the first time since their October 2023 release. The release of M3 Pro and M3 Max models on Apple's refurbished store comes almost two weeks after the entry-level 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro first appeared on the store....