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EU Plans to Ban Tech Companies From Pre-Installing Apps, Force Them to Share Data With Competitors

steve23094

macrumors 68030
Apr 23, 2013
2,782
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SAP, Nokia, Opera, AVG, Soundcloud, Last.fm, Mojang (creator of the best selling videogame in history), Rovio, King, DailyMotion, Huddle, ASOS, Skype, SkyScanner, Shazam, Trivago, Deliveroo.

No, none of these companies are as big as the larger ones in the US. Note that I did not say largest. There is no argument to be made about how much bigger the tech industry is in the US compared to the EU.

Yes, the EU absolutely has big tech companies.

Last.fm, Mojang, King, Skype, Skyscanner and Shazam are owned by US companies. Trivago majority owned by a Chinese company. I haven’t done the maths but I’d be fairly sure if you added up the value of all these companies they wouldn’t equal one Amazon or Apple. But I acknowledge that’s probably not your point.

Some general thoughts on this topic.

Anybody remember the EU common charger regulations? They kicked off in 2009, that’s 11 years ago! Anything that might get passed into law isn’t going to happen any time soon, and by the time they do the market will look completely different to what it is now. Bureaucracy never keeps pace with technology.

These rumblings are a natural extension of the EU’s case against Alphabet. They have already been down this path. During the investigation there were a lot of rumblings from Eurocrats that Europe seemingly wasn’t able to foster a FAANG. The sharing of data is their attempt to rectify that, giving EU based competition a leg up. I’m not judging it right or wrong, merely explaining their motives and mindset.
 
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msp3

macrumors 6502
May 9, 2015
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the EU is planning to force non-European companies Apple, Amazon, and Google to hand over customer data to European rivals in a protectionist effort to beat back American big tech and tighten its own hold over European consumers
fixed that for you
 
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MacBH928

Contributor
May 17, 2008
4,826
1,856
Actually...
thats kind of great. now you don't have to worry about Windows and Android coming with bloatware. Apple can have a link the app store to download the "Apple package" that will download all the pre-installed apps.
 
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manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
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Understand the idea of consumer choice. But how will any device be useable without any installed software. A computer without software is a paperweight.
There are compromises possible that offer a better balance. For example, apps that require a paid service to work cannot come pre-installed. From a commercial competition point of view, Apple Music would be a candidate, even though the fact that the Music app on iOS serves both as a player of purchased music (iTunes Store, ripped CDs) and a music streaming client complicates that. The same idea could apply to Apple Arcade or Apple TV+ but with similar complicating factors (Apple Arcade isn't an app) and the Apple TV+ service also co-uses the TV app (together with purchased TV shows and movies).

But even in this case, having to download a client for Apple Music (which would compete with having to download the Spotify app), is only equalising one aspect of the competitive advantage Apple Music has (the 15% fee issue wouldn't be changed by that).

So, having an app for a paid service pre-installed is only one thing that one might consider to outlaw. Co-using an existing app (the Music and TV apps in this example) that provides a less controversial service (being the repository for purchased content, even content purchased from third parties) is much trickier to prevent.

The most radical yet practical solution I can imagine in this context would be to forbid platform owners from offering paid services that are not essential for the functionality of the device and cannot easily be provided by a third party. Selling iCloud storage for example would be allowed as synching data between the clould and multiple devices or backing up a device is essential and cannot easily provided by third parties. But even here, third-party apps can sync data, eg, via Dropbox (but requiring Apple to sync the data for its own apps via Dropbox would definitely be a step way too far).

There is no simple solution yet any regulatory approach must be simple enough such that it can apply to new situations (new companies, newer technology, new commercial ideas) without requiring constant case-by-case adjustments.
 
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manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
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I believe that there should be a law against pre-installing useless apps that can’t be removed.
Some would put the Stocks app into that category (I think it can be removed but in that way that any data the user has generated in it would still be there if the user decides to re-install it).
 
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manu chao

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Jul 30, 2003
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Hey, have at it. It will be an interesting experiment that the rest of the world can learn from. I suspect it will be a dumpster fire but as long as it is someone else's I'm ready with the lawn chair, beer and popcorn to watch it unfold comfortably.

(seriously - you'd buy a blank iPhone, go to the Apple website, by-your-own-free-will click on a link and in a short time it would look like they do now.)

Its a silly requirement that will only hurt EU members.
I am not saying it is an applicable solution as such but I also think it is imagineable that Google Music and Apple Music could over time push Spotify out of the market due to their built-in advantages and paying for music streaming wouldn't be a market anymore with competition (in price but also features) and both Google and Apple could jack up their prices (the only competition being abstinence, ie, not subscribing to any music streaming service).
 
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manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
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Hi! I'm from the government and I'm going to help you.
Hi! I'm a libertarian and have developed this really good excuse against anybody putting any form of restrictions on me doing just whatever I want, consequences for others be damned.
 
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manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
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It is most likely non system specific apps. Even macOS itself could do with this, like why can't we remove Chess, Contacts, Home, News, Music, Stocks, TV, and even Safari. I personally use Safari and Music(for my bought songs), but those other apps serve no function but taking up space.
Contacts serves as UI for the contacts database that is part of the OS and used by many third-party applications. So, a good deal of the code of the Contacts app is truly part of the OS (in the form of the APIs that third-party apps use). Home also interacts with a lot of third-party products (though in this case hardware products) and thus is also part of the OS. The web rendering capabilities that power Safari are also used by many third-party apps. In today's time being able to access the internet (if only to download Firefox) is also a core feature of an operating system (yes, the approach of being 'forced' to select an internet browser to download during the setup process of an OS installation would a way around some of that but only in regard to the UI part of Safari, not the WebKit rendering features).

Music and TV are a slightly different but still a bit complex category. However, News, Stocks, and Chess are definitely add-ons. Among these, it is News that most likely the one with the largest effect on commercial competition (Stocks and Chess are too basic to really compete much with paid apps in that category, on iOS an app as basic as Chess would have tons of free apps).
 
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Grey Area

macrumors 6502
Jan 14, 2008
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I think it is really to early to figure out what exactly the intentions and consequences are. The leaked document (I think that is the one, correct me if there is another) is an "informal working document" and not a law text.

Some parts can be interpreted in different ways, e.g.
"Gatekeepers shall not pre-install exclusively their own applications..."

When exactly is a company a gatekeeper? The document contains no definition.
What exactly does "not pre-install exclusively" mean - is it sufficient for non-exclusivity to have one alternative pre-installed along with the own app, for example some barebones open-source suite that handles basic functionality and which the customer can delete with one click?
Or is this intended maybe against pre-installed apps that basically block alternatives (like when Apple did not allow this or that type of app into the store, because it duplicated functionality of some pre-installed Apple app)?
 
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manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
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I mean no offence but the EU was started by the third reich and the first head of the EEC(what then became the EU) was a high ranking member of the nazi party.
Sure, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg that were occupied by the Third Reich during the Second World War, agreed to join/form the EEC in 1957 because Germany forced them to do so (at a time when France actually had troups stationed in Germany and at some nominal level held some sovereignty over Germany). These four countries liked the German occupation during the Second World War so much that they've asked Germany in the 1950s whether Germany could please recreate this experience for them by forming the EEC. And that is before equating the government of Germany in 1957 with the Third Reich.

Or maybe the Roman Empire started the EU. Or the Barbarians (that 'captured' a lot of Europe from the Romans). Or maybe Napoleon started the EU. Or the Vatican. Or the Illuminati or the Free Masons.
 
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I7guy

macrumors Penryn
Nov 30, 2013
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Gotta be in it to win it
Both the EU and US (both parties actually) have realized that the centralization of data (and power) in the big tech corporations is an increasing problem that needs to be solved in one way or another.

Those people here that think that those corporation should be able to do however they please "because the customer can always buy something else", are essentially missing the big picture and are part of the reason why regulation is unavoidable.

...
I couldn't disagree more. The freedom to innovate is what makes these tech companies tick. Regulating them to the lowest common denominator will have undesirable consequence. Maybe they (Apple, Google, Facebook) should all pull out of the EU and the EU can do what it wants with whatever tech company is left.

Yeah, it's hyperbolic, but this can't really be as it seems.
 
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unplugme71

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May 20, 2011
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This is absurdly stupid. People buy an iPhone and expect default apps - just like those who buy an android. You are selling an experience.

If you as a customer want to customize it, that is your choice.

I can agree to level the playing field, but the risk in doing so removed a bit of the competition as well.
 
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lowendlinux

macrumors 603
Sep 24, 2014
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I don't understand the internet heartburn over this..

When you setup your phone you select the apps you want installed like installing pico gapps when you flash your Android phone. Id love it if I could set up my iPhone the same way vs putting all the pre-installed in a folder and hiding it as best as I can. The only thing apple I want on my phone is photos, music, news, and clock everything else they can keep.
 
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compwiz1202

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May 20, 2010
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No Sh*t!!! This should be directed at all the crapware carriers install. Same for PCs. Block them from installing a **** ton of trialware!
It was ridiculous on my GS8+. This would be a real example of what they are trying to stop. Not only was their crap, but they actually blocked Samsung Cloud to "force" you to use VZW Cloud. Flashed a carrier free firmware, and then it would open, but it still didn't always backup properly.
[automerge]1602254476[/automerge]
We will go back to our Nokias :) .
Everyone can play SNAKE!!! :D
 
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Konrad9

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2012
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Last.fm, Mojang, King, Skype, Skyscanner and Shazam are owned by US companies. Trivago majority owned by a Chinese company.

Last.fm, Mojang, King, Skype, Skyscanner, Shazam, Trivago were founded in the EU. Who owns them now is not the point. The point is that the EU does produce high-value tech companies. The fact that US and Chinese companies found them valuable enough to buy makes this point all the strong.


Anybody remember the EU common charger regulations?

Yep. And I remember that pretty shortly thereafter nearly every piece of non-Apple tech I purchased used micro-USB for power. Sounds pretty successful to me.
 
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cupcakes2000

macrumors 6502a
Apr 13, 2010
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Last.fm, Mojang, King, Skype, Skyscanner, Shazam, Trivago were founded in the EU. Who owns them now is not the point. The point is that the EU does produce high-value tech companies. The fact that US and Chinese companies found them valuable enough to buy makes this point all the strong.




Yep. And I remember that pretty shortly thereafter nearly every piece of non-Apple tech I purchased used micro-USB for power. Sounds pretty successful to me.


Let’s not forget about ARM, powering the entire worlds mobile devices.
 
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