Friday, November 25, 2022

Twitter and Block (Square) founder Jack Dorsey attacks #AppleBrowserBan, thereby validating UK CMA's regulatory initiative, and throws his weight behind Open Web Advocacy

More and more tech luminaries call out Apple on its shameless abuse of market power and the damage it does to innovation and the economy at large. As Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney has repeatedly said on Twitter, "Apple must be stopped." Nothing is even half as urgent in the tech regulation context (Google is a clear but distant second). Instead of addressing the issues, Apple brazenly keeps causing additional problems. Apple is the tech industry equivalent of the Lernaean Hydra.

Not everyone dares to speak out against the tyrant. That's always been a problem in any dictatorship in history. But Apple has gone so far, and suffering is so widespread, that slowly but surely its critics grow in numbers and in profile.

Take Twitter's current owner--Elon Musk has more than one reason to fight Apple's (and Google's) app store monopolies--and its former chairman, serial entrepreneur Jack Dorsey. On Thanksgiving, Mr. Dorsey tweeted the following:

He then laid out the three priorities, the first one of which he described by means of a hashtag: #AppleBrowserBan.

I'm particularly happy to see that Mr. Dorsey pointed to In June, I republished various charts that Open Web Advocacy had previously posted to Twitter. They really do great work on the Apple browser engine monopoly issue.

That same month I also drew addition to long-time web browser developer Alex Russell's write-up that explains Apple is not defending browser engine choice. Apple forces all iOS browsers to use its WebKit engine (like Safari).

Apple's browser engine dictate is bad for competition, for innovation, for choice. It's a shame that Apple got away with it for so long, but it won't stay that way.

Some of Apple's sycophants, astroturfers and others vassals, and brainwashed followers incredibly argue that if Apple opened up browser engines on iOS, Google's Chrome would win and the last bastion to a total Chrome monoculture would fall. We should not take people seriously who say that. It's just crazy. If Google abused a browser monopoly, regulators would have to deal with it. But the fundamental difference between Chrome and Safari is that Chrome is a meritocratic monopoly. Chrome got there because of quality. Again, that doesn't justify abuse, but the first question is how a market gets monopolized, and Google undoubtedly did something right while Safari's market share on iOS is the result of anticompetitive wrongdoing that will hopefully be found unlawful. Safari never got serious traction on a third-party operating system, while Chrome managed to displace anyone, anywhere, provided that Chrome could come with its own engine.

Without mentioning the UK's Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), Mr. Dorsey effectively endorsed its very recent decision--a so-called market investigation reference (MIR)--concerning mobile browsers and cloud gaming.

In my commentary on two documents that became public on Wednesday owing to the CMA's Microsoft-ActivisionBlizzard merger review, I noted that Fortnite hasn't really succeeded on mobile devices as an Xbox Cloud Gaming offering and that Apple (and, to a lesser degree, Google) are responsible for large parts of the problem, and mentioned the CMA's market investigation reference.

The timing of Mr. Dorsey's public criticism of Apple's browser ban could hardly have been better.

I will soon write about the CMA's market investigation as well as a UK legislative initiative called Digital Markets Unit (DMU), but wanted to immediately share the news of one of the most famous tech entrepreneurs having spoken out in no uncertain terms. I also made my little contribution on Twitter: