Towards the end of preinstalled applications in Europe?


We could perhaps see the preinstalled GAFAM applications disappear under the “Digital Services Act”.

There are a large number of preinstalled apps. © prima91 – stock.adobe.com

Digital Services Act, a bill to regulate the digital giants

As revealed by the Financial Times, the Digital Services Act drafted by the European Commission aims to force companies to avoid abuse of a dominant position. GAFAM are directly targeted.

Applications preinstalled at the same time as operating systems are in the sights: they would constitute an abuse of a dominant position by preventing competition from third-party applications. The objective of the law would therefore be to put everyone on an equal footing by allowing competitors to have a chance against preinstalled applications.

Historically, the American giants have always preinstalled their sets of basic applications on their devices and they continue to do so even today, whether it is Apple, Google, Samsung … In some cases, these preinstalled applications cannot be uninstalled but simply disabled or hidden.

A law to promote competition between mobile applications

Take the example of Apple: since the iOS 11 update (2017) it is possible to remove most of these applications, except the App Store, the camera and a few other essentials. 3 years later, with the iOS 14 update, released just a few weeks ago. Indeed, the latter allows you to change the default web browser and messaging, which is a big step forward at Apple.

The new interface of iOS 14. © Apple

Despite these advances, not sure that Apple can escape the “Digital Services Act” which threatens them. By continuing to preinstall its applications automatically, European jurisdictions could consider that Apple continues to abuse its dominant position in the market.

The content of the Digital Service Act will evolve further and there is no certainty for the moment that Apple, Google, Microsoft and others will no longer be able to preinstall their applications when the law is finalized. While the debate is hot, antitrust actions can take time and the constraints may well be eased by then.

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