Apple executive Craig Federighi, who is responsible for the company’s iOS software for iPhones, gave a lengthy speech intended to alert listeners to what could happen if Apple were forced to allow users to download apps. The speech was delivered at the 2021 Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, and it builds on earlier similar statements from Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The European Commission is actively discussing the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which aims to regulate large tech platforms to ensure a level playing field. Companies like Apple could face fines of up to 10% of their global revenue.
In its current proposed form, DMA would force Apple to start allowing sideloading on the iPhone or face such fines. Federighi called out the DMA specifically in his speech, briefly expressing support for it overall, but removing the secondary offload provision in almost apocalyptic terms.
“Sideloading is a cybercriminal’s best friend, and requiring it on the iPhone would be a gold rush for the malware industry,” he told a large audience. “This provision of DMA could force every iPhone user into a landscape of professional crooks constantly trying to cheat them.”
The presentation was accompanied by alarming slide images, like illustrations of sinister eyes lurking in the darkness outside people’s homes.
In fact, Federighi compared mobile devices directly to homes and said that users in some homes (representing iPhones) experience much less break-in than users in other homes (representing Android phones). He said the difference is that homes without iPhones were less secure because they had side doors that were always open that any intruder could pass through, and he compared the DMA’s side-loading layout to a mandate that every home has a door. unlocked installed.
Federighi also said it didn’t matter if people said they wouldn’t download apps because some malware is disguised in a way that has in the past tricked Android users into loading. without realising it. Even though tech-savvy individuals feel confident in avoiding these pitfalls, he said, they should still be concerned about the vulnerability of others.
While most of the statistics he cited on malware incidents on iOS versus other platforms were accurate, he avoided the elephant in the room: Apple’s macOS for laptops and Desktops also manages to have fewer malware incidents than its biggest competitor, even though it allows sideloading of applications.
Apple takes a different approach to security on the Mac, requiring apps to authenticate themselves in a specific way to launch. Otherwise, users must follow an explicit, multi-step process to force the operating system to let these applications run anyway. It is still relatively effective.
Federighi also never mentioned Apple’s other likely motive for tackling sideloading: Sideloading would further hamper the company’s ability to ensure it gets a share of revenue from each app, after that a US judge has already reduced this capacity by deciding that Apple must allow links to third parties. – Party payment systems in apps downloaded from the App Store.
He referred to the fact that the iPhone occupies a minority position in the market, pointing out that only one in five Europeans owns an iPhone as opposed to other types of smartphones (namely Android).
“Our goal has never been to sell the most,” he said. “Instead, our mission is to provide people with a choice of what we consider to be the best.”
List image by Web Summit
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