The European Union has taken initial steps to investigate Apple’s decision to discontinue support for web apps in the EU, reported the Financial Times. The European Commission has sent inquiries to Apple and app developers to assess the impacts of the move, which goes into effect in March.
“We are indeed looking at the compliance packages of all gatekeepers, including Apple,” a European Commission spokesperson told The Verge.”In that context, we’re in particular looking into the issue of progressive web apps.”

Web apps allowed bypassing App Store fees

Under the new changes, these web apps will no longer function as standalone apps but as bookmarks. Apple claims the adjustments were necessary to comply with the EU’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA).
Progressive web apps, also called homepage web apps, are web-based apps that can be installed on an iPhone’s home screen. They allow developers to bypass Apple’s App Store and associated fees.
“Any company found not to be compliant [with the DMA] will face strong sanctions,” Thierry Breton, the EU’s Internal Markets Commissioner, told the Financial Times.

Apple claims move necessary for DMA compliance

Introduced last year, the European Union’s Digital Markets Act aims to regulate large online platforms to make digital marketplaces more competitive. It designates companies like Apple as “gatekeepers” and requires them to allow full support for third-party browser engines.
Apple contests that meeting these requirements is unrealistic. In a Q&A with developers, the company said, “opening up progressive web app features to third parties without putting users at risk of security breaches was not practical to undertake given the other demands of the DMA.”
The EU’s investigation is still in the early stages. Regulators have requested information to better understand the impacts on app developers and iPhone users before determining the next steps.
EU officials said formal proceedings could be avoided if Apple makes further concessions. Under the DMA, fines for noncompliance can reach up to 10% of a company’s annual turnover.
Apple previously unveiled iOS changes in Europe to adhere to the legislation, like allowing third-party app stores and accepting alternative payments, among others. However, competitors argue additional fees discourage building alternatives.

Further scrutiny over Apple’s services

The investigation follows other recent scrutiny over Apple’s services segment, which generates $85 billion annually. Next month, Apple faces its first EU fine – around €500 million – for allegedly violating competition rules regarding its music streaming platform.
While Apple contends that the web app restrictions only affect a few iPhone users, regulators aim to gauge whether the company abused its gatekeeper position in the app ecosystem.
The Commission will prioritise assessing if the discontinuation harms market competition and consumer choice. Its findings could lead to a formal antitrust case if Apple is deemed non-compliant.

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