EU's Digital Markets Act hits Google, Apple browser shares.


The new EU legislation, the Digital Markets Act, officially came into effect on March 7, 2024. It has now been a month, and the impact of this act has started to emerge.

On March 7th of this year, the European Union's new legislation aimed at eliminating unfair competition, known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA), officially came into effect. A key provision of the DMA mandates that mobile devices must offer users the choice of alternative browsers, instead of forcing them to use a pre-installed browser.

This legislation targets major internet giants, including Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Google's Chrome browser and Apple's Safari browser, being the default browsers on their respective devices, have thus become mainstream browsers, leaving little room for competition from other browser software.

Browsers serve as the "infrastructure" of the internet, essential for users to access online content. Typically, browsers are free to use, leading most users to stick with the default option. However, this has essentially created monopolies and unfair competition.

Within a month of the DMA taking effect, the European Union's browser market underwent significant changes. The Cyprus-based Aloha browser saw a 250% increase in users in just one month. Founded in 2016, the company offers a distinct browsing experience, opting for a paid subscription model instead of relying on advertising for revenue.

Furthermore, the number of users for browsers from companies such as Norway's Vivaldi, Germany's Ecosia, and America's Brave also saw noticeable growth.

Similarly benefiting from the legislation, DuckDuckGo from the USA boasts a hundred million users, and Norway's Opera exceeds three hundred million users. Opera's vice president publicly stated that their user base in the European Union reached an all-time high.


Nevertheless, Apple and Google are not willing to easily yield their market share. Unable to counteract the DMA, they've chosen alternative methods to deter users from switching browsers, such as introducing more cumbersome steps, complicated processes, and slowing down patch updates. Mozilla, the developer of the Firefox browser, estimates that only 19% of iPhone users in the region received the update, which seems significantly slower than previous software updates.

Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, CEO of Norway's Vivaldi, remarked that on iPhones, users only see the choice screen after clicking on Safari, followed by a list of browsers with no additional information.

However, this seemingly reluctant compliance did not escape the attention of the European Union. The European Commission has initiated an investigation to determine if Apple might be preventing users from truly exercising their choice of service. To date, Apple has displayed up to 11 browsers on the selection page across the EU's 27 countries and plans to update this annually for each country.

DuckDuckGo and Opera are among the browsers listed by Apple, available in all 27 countries on opening a new tab, Aloha in 26 countries, Ecosia in 13 countries, and Vivaldi in 8 countries.



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