John Gruber, writing on Daring Fireball:

As I wrote this week, there aren’t many un-installable apps on iOS… Vestager makes clear in her remarks what wasn’t clear in the EC’s announcement of the investigation: they have a problem with Photos… Photos is not just an app on iOS; it’s the system-level interface to the camera roll… Vestager is saying that to be compliant with the DMA, Apple needs to allow third-party apps to serve as the system-level camera roll. That is a monumental demand, and I honestly don’t even know how such a demand could be squared with system-wide permissions for photo access. This is product design, not mere regulation. Why stop there? Why not mandate that Springboard — the Home Screen — be a replaceable component? Or the entire OS itself? Why are iPhone users required to use iOS? Why are iOS users required to buy iPhones?

I’ve said this earlier, mostly as a joke, but I don’t think Gruber’s remarks here are very serious either — they’re mainly rhetorical. But from the way the European Union is handling compliance with the Digital Markets Act — not even the actual law itself, which is flawed in many ways — I can’t help but think the European Commission wants a seat in Apple’s research-and-development or engineering department.

If you asked me a year ago, “Do you think the European Union would mandate Apple to allow users to install Android on iPhones a decade from now?” I would’ve laughed in your face. Now? In a decade, anything is possible with the European Union, a body that ultimately is capitalist for its own benefit but is trying to play a hilarious game of socialism. The problem, according to Margrethe Vestager, the commission’s executive vice president responsible for technology regulation, and Thierry Breton, the antitrust commissioner of the European Union, is caused by the European Union assuming control of digital platforms. It’ll go to any length to exercise its stolen control.

The browser choice screen, which Vestager and Breton have launched an investigation into, is impartial, unbiased, and designed as elegantly as possible, but apparently, that’s not enough for the two top dogs in the European Commission — even though the law they wrote doesn’t classify Apple’s implementation as illegal. Is there no court in the European Union? Of course there is — the European Union has a full judicial branch of the government, the commission is just the executive branch. Why doesn’t the commission take this case to the courts and let a jury settle this instead of launching a stupid investigation to scare companies into changing things?

And about the Photos app: The European Commission is clearly full of technology-illiterate old people, to the point where it isn’t even able to do its own due diligence to understand that the Photos app is a core part of iOS. If the commission actually had an interest in developing meaningful technology regulation, it would probably hire experts in the field. Again, the problem isn’t the Photos app, just as it isn’t about the browser choice screen — if Apple made the Photos app un-installable tomorrow, Breton would throw himself a party, post a celebratory selfie on social media naming himself the sole provider of freedom for Europeans, then launch an investigation into why the Camera app isn’t un-installable the next morning. The commission will continue to move the goalposts; it’s playing a one-sided, rigged game while laughing manically in the corner at everyone falling face-flat on the ground. It’s full of ego and every last one of its commissioners are narcissistic maniacs.

It’s not worth it to spend more time writing about the European Union’s nonsense. Gruber’s whole piece is a follow-up to an earlier story he posted about the possibility that Apple could leave the European Union. Despite what E.U. fanboys might have you think, Apple could leave the bloc at any time and royally screw its citizens — and as soon as it does that, the commission will sue Apple (or, God forbid, launch one of its “investigations”) for some reason even though not doing business somewhere isn’t illegal. Apple has the upper hand not because it’s a monopoly but because it makes products Europeans love. Maybe those Europeans should talk some sense into Brussels this year.

Apple is in full compliance with the DMA — it’s obvious. But no matter what Apple does, it’ll never be able to change the commission’s mind. It’s obvious in the verbiage of the DMA, the commissioners’ psychotic behavior on the internet1, and how the executive branch of one of the world’s superpowers applies laws to the world’s leading technology corporations.

  1. I mean, seriously, this is not even an exaggeration. Please look at this insane behavior — what is this? It’s a bunch of elderly white people in suits standing in front of a projector screen smiling, and then a caption saying: “Not all heroes wear capes.” What form of auto-fellatio am I looking at here? Even a firefighter who saved a whole family from a burning house wouldn’t exhibit this much arrogance. Can we get a psychiatrist to Brussels, please? ↩︎