The concept of Apple's "walled garden" has long been a contentious topic. For some users, the idea of a completely contained ecosystem controlled in all aspects by Apple is attractive because it makes the experience more unified. For others, however, the lack of choice and customization is a major turn-off. While Apple fans are happy with their lot in life, the rest of the world is looking to shrink Apple's walled garden one square foot at a time.
What is a "walled garden?"
What do we mean when we say that Apple's ecosystem is a "walled garden?" Basically, it's a metaphor for the excessive control Apple exercises over its products and services. Instead of allowing users to install third-party apps or customize their experience in any meaningful way, everything is managed by Apple.
Apple enthusiasts defend this approach as a way of maintaining quality control over the user experience. Critics argue that this limits consumer choice and can lead to higher prices.
Regardless of your opinion on the matter, it's clear that Apple's walled garden has been a major factor in its success over the past decade. While users can't customize their experience as much as they'd like, they can still rely on Apple to deliver a consistent product and service experience across all its devices. The result is an incredibly loyal user base that continues to grow.
The EU is closing in
While many people are annoyed by the way Apple runs its business, it appears that the European Union is the most annoyed. Or, at least they are willing to act on their annoyance. It seems as if the EU has continuously looked at and targeted Apple specifically without actually saying it out loud. They will soon require phones to use USB-C, which basically everyone but Apple already does. When Apple thought they had a plan to avoid it, they were put into place.
Next, the EU began looking into requiring removable batteries. While sealed bodies have become the norm, it was Apple that made it popular and possible for manufacturers to seal their devices. Previously, any company that would have tried to pull this kind of scam would have been run out of town.
Opening the gates
This week, it was confirmed that Apple meets the definition of "gatekeeper" in the EU. For those of us in North America, this might not sound like a big deal, but it absolutely is. This designation in the EU will require Apple to follow a whole host of new laws and regulations intended to open the gates closed by these gatekeepers.
So, what does this mean for users? It could mean that the EU might give Epic Games what it wants, forcing apple to allow third-party app stores on their platforms. This would mean that companies like Microsoft and Epic Games could launch their own mobile app stores on iPhones and iPads. This would give users choice over what software they install on the devices that they purchased for a large amount of money, rather than Apple having ultimate control over what you can do with your device.
Of course, this will not just apply to iPhones in the EU, as Apple generally makes one version of its platform that it distributes across the globe. This makes sense, as a phone purchased outside of the EU would likely still need to comply once it was brought into the EU. So, it is always easier to just comply than to selectively comply. So, if this actually happens, expect to gain more power over your devices, if you own an Apple device.