Apple is continuing its campaign to explain why sideloading on Apple’s devices is a bad idea.

Apple Software Vice President Craig Federighi appeared at Web Summit 2021 to passionately defend his company’s approach to platform security on iPhones. He was speaking against a clause in the EU’s Digital Markets Act that would force the company to support app sideloading on iPhones.

There are four primary reasons people want Apple to do this:

  • For commercial reasons, such as to sell products created using Apple’s APIs to people on Apple’s platforms without paying for the chance to do so.
  • For consumer choice, so it becomes possible to install and use apps that are not made available on the App Store.
  • For devious reasons, such as avoiding the App Store app review process to continue tracking users without consent or for other forms of surveillance.
  • For criminal purpose, such as creating fake app stores to spread malware, ransomware, and more.

It’s perfectly acceptable to try to seek commercial advantage, and we’ve seen before how the “open beats closed” mantra is often used to undermine consumer interest. Google used it when it went up against Apple with Android, though years later Android has become a great deal more closed.

Show your face

However, I think much of the energy behind the current campaign comes from a loosely coalesced set of interests working to undermine Apple’s privacy and security for their own benefit. The group has allies, too, equally committed to making their fortunes in the so-called “metaverse,” which many see as a virtual world we can still enjoy once climate change renders the real world too toxic.

As I see it, when a company that can afford to hire a voter-rejected former UK deputy prime minister as its lobbyist complains about something, it is probably going to reflect its own self-interest. In this case, it wants to undermine Apple’s privacy protections to protect its business and wants to create a bulwark against the incoming war over augmented and virtual reality.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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