Samuel Stolton and Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is withholding a raft of new technologies from hundreds of millions of consumers in the European Union, citing concerns posed by the bloc’s regulatory attempts to rein in Big Tech.

The company announced Friday that it would block the release of Apple Intelligence, iPhone Mirroring, and SharePlay Screen Sharing from users in the EU this year, because the Digital Markets Act allegedly forces it to downgrade the security of its products and services.

“We are concerned that the interoperability requirements of the DMA could force us to compromise the integrity of our products in ways that risk user privacy and data security,” Apple said in a statement.

In response to this, the most friendly, levelheaded, understanding, not-angry-all-the-time people in the world — European users of Mastodon — are raging hard, not at the European Commission, but at Apple. Of course. Let me make it clear: This is not a move of retaliation from Apple, nor is it meant to snub E.U. users purely for the sake of it. Know-it-alls on Mastodon can say that all they want, but it’s purely nonsensical from a cynical, business perspective. As Gurman writes on X, Apple needs to sell as many iPhones 15 and 16 Pro as possible because the feature is so limited. By cutting Apple Intelligence off from the iPhone’s second-biggest market, even temporarily, Apple loses an incentive for customers to buy more high-end iPhone models.

Let me put it another way: When Apple keeps Apple TV+ or Apple Intelligence out of China due to the same regulatory concerns, do Chinese people blame Apple for “retaliating” against the Chinese government and its people, or do they blame their authoritarian regime for policing what they’re able to do, say, and watch? It’s impossible to know for certain — thanks, Chinese Communist Party — but I’m guessing it’s the latter. Same for those who live in Russia or North Korea. But a minute subset of Europeans feel a raging sense of self-entitlement and that if a company excludes certain features from their home, it’s doing it for nefarious purposes.

Europe, as John Gruber, the author of Daring Fireball, writes on Mastodon, enforces the spirit of the DMA, not the actual letter of the law. How is Apple supposed to bring any new features that integrate with its other products with any amount of certainty when Europe is destined to penalize it over and over again for absolutely no reason or justification? Take the Core Technology Fee, which Apple has reduced only to affect the largest conglomerates that both accept the new business terms and set up a third-party app marketplace. European legislators in Brussels never even thought of that as an opportunity and began prematurely celebrating with champagne at just the thought of American “Big Tech” giants having to pay fees. But Apple did the work and, through its lawyers, determined the fee was legal and a clever way of complying with the law. The commission did not like that, so it said it was about to fine Apple for non-compliance.

Because Europeans don’t express any skepticism toward their government’s autocratic actions whatsoever, they really do think Apple failed to comply with the DMA. In actuality, to anyone who has read the law, the Core Technology Fee certainly does comply with it because there is no clause against it. Europe’s terribly written law has no clause saying “gatekeepers” can’t charge a per-download fee to offset the costs of complying with the regulation. But regardless, European regulators apply a vibes-based approach to applying the rules. This is a hostile environment to operate any business in, so Apple simply chose to exercise its rights to not do business. What will the European Commission do, levy a fine because Apple chose to withhold a feature from its dear kingdom’s citizens for some time? We’ll see how that works out.

Europeans will continue to be mad at Apple because they don’t understand what their government is doing. They don’t understand what their law says. They don’t even have the patience to understand that a democratically elected government can be wrong sometimes because they’re always caught up in “Big Tech is bad, Big Tech is bad.” Now, they’re making the argument that Apple’s new features aren’t illegal under the DMA and that Apple is purposely punishing Europeans because it’s dissatisfied with the regulation, but that argument is moot once the big picture becomes clear: Europe doesn’t regulate according to the law, but to its feelings.

If Apple Intelligence makes a mistake, European commissioners will immediately designate Apple Intelligence as a “very large online platform” under the Digital Services Act, a related law that regulates social media platforms. Then, once enough Europeans complain about Image Playground’s creation of racially diverse Nazis, or whatever the case may be, Europe will slam its gavel down and fine Apple 10 percent of its daily global revenue for “repeat infractions.” Is bringing Apple Intelligence to Europe illegal according to the DMA? Absolutely not. But doing business in the European Union as a large company is. Europe is criminalizing business by applying its fees however it pleases, so it comes as no surprise that Apple wants to be cautious when it does business there.

If Apple brings iPhone Mirroring to macOS in the European Union, my best guess is that it will be punished under the DMA for not opening it up to Android. The European Commission will say that limiting such a useful feature to its own devices is gatekeeping and preventing competition from thriving, and thus, Apple needs to be penalized unless it develops an Android app to make the same feature for a competitor’s product. It sounds ridiculous now, but so does “E.U. Fines Meta for Charging Users to Access Its Product.” That’s a real headline, obviously modified to be more humorous, but it isn’t untrue. The European Commission will go to the craziest lengths to make its money, and I think Apple was within its rights to withhold these features from a hostile regime until it can ready them for the regulatory scrutiny that they will inevitably receive.