Over the past few years, the public's perception of the mobile application landscape has been changing. Where once Apple users accepted that the company actually owned all of their devices, despite the high price, recently users have begun to demand full access to their phones and tablets. Apple has maintained that they have no intention of allowing owners to use their devices as they please because they know better than you how you should use your phone. This week, the company sent Craig Federighi to Web Summit (the sister event to Collision) to emphasize that point.
Apple has long pretended that its focus is on safety and security, despite evidence to the contrary. To this end, Federighi, the leader of the iOS team, took the stage to strike fear into the Web Summit audience. The primary point of his very long presentation is that iOS is locked down, preventing sideloading, because you can't be trusted with your own device because bad people might try to take advantage of you.
Sideloading is a cybercriminal's best friend, and requiring that on the iPhone would be a gold rush for the malware industry. That one provision in the DMA could force every iPhone user into a landscape of professional con artists constantly trying to fool them.
His comment about the DMA is in reference to the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a new law being proposed by the European Commission. This law would make for a lot of changes in the electronics market, with a large emphasis on Apple's business model. The DMA, as currently envisioned, would require Apple to allow sideloading of apps onto their platforms. But, the company's entire mobile business model revolves around owning the ecosystem.
In addition, he compared the security of a phone with the security of a house. He said that some homes suffered far fewer break-ins than others because the other homes have an always-open side door through which robbers can enter. The problem, of course, is that the analogy isn't correct for a number of reasons. The most important reason is that the general Android owner (the "other homes") doesn't even know that the door is there, and the door is locked with a deadbolt and a padlock by default. It takes enough work to unlock that Epic Games had to post a tutorial on how to make your device ready to install the game from outside of the Play Store after it was removed.
The change in perception began with the challenge from Epic Games, showing a different side of the relationship that developers and publishers have with Apple. The company has always put forward an image of a utopia between developers and Apple, but that's not really the reality for many high-profile developers, including Epic Games.
Since this revelation, users have reevaluated their relationship with their devices. The general backlash against Apple, in particular, is the cause of several legal moves against the company, including the DMA. Several US states have attempted legislation to create a similar situation, but none of them were strong enough to have any real impact on the iOS ecosystem. The European Commission, however, stands a chance of creating real change.