Commission designates Apple's iPadOS under the Digital Markets Act

The European Commission has today designated Apple with respect to iPadOS, its operating system for tablets, as a gatekeeper under the Digital Markets Act (“DMA”). Apple now has six months to ensure full compliance of iPadOS with the DMA obligations.

The investigation

On 5 September 2023, the Commission designated Apple as a gatekeeper for its operating system iOS, its browser Safari and its App Store. On the same day, the Commission opened a market investigation to assess whether Apple's iPadOS, despite not meeting the quantitative thresholds laid down in the DMA, constitutes an important gateway for business users to reach end users and therefore should be designated as a gatekeeper.  

The Commission's investigation found that Apple presents the features of a gatekeeper in relation to iPadOS, as among others:

  • Apple's business user numbers exceeded the quantitative threshold elevenfold, while its end user numbers were close to the threshold and are predicted to rise in the near future.
  • End users are locked-in to iPadOS. Apple leverages its large ecosystem to disincentivise end users from switching to other operating systems for tablets.
  • Business users are locked-in to iPadOS because of its large and commercially attractive user base, and its importance for certain use cases, such as gaming apps.

On the basis of the findings of the investigation, the Commission concluded that iPadOS constitutes an important gateway for business users to reach end users, and that Apple enjoys an entrenched and durable position with respect to iPadOS. Apple has now six months to ensure full compliance with the DMA obligations as applied to iPadOS.


The DMA aims to ensure contestable and fair markets in the digital sector. It regulates gatekeepers, which are large digital platforms that provide an important gateway between business users and consumers, whose position can grant them the power to create a bottleneck in the digital economy.

For today's decision, the Commission had a best-endeavour deadline of 12 months to conclude the market investigation based on qualitative criteria, which is the first and so far only of its kind opened under the DMA rules.

Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta and Microsoft, the six gatekeepers designated by the Commission on 5 September 2023, had to fully comply with all DMA obligations by 7 March 2024. The Commission has been assessing the compliance reports setting out gatekeepers' compliance measures, and gathering feedback from stakeholders, including in the context of workshops.

On 25 March 2024, the Commission opened non-compliance investigations into Alphabet's rules on steering in Google Play and self-preferencing on Google Search, Apple's rules on steering in the App Store and the choice screen for Safari, and Meta's “pay or consent model”. The Commission announced additional investigatory steps to gather facts and information in relation to Amazon's self-preferencing and Apple's alternative app distribution and new business model.

On 1 March 2024, the Commission received notifications from Booking, ByteDance and X about their services potentially meeting the DMA thresholds, which could mean they should be subject to the new EU rules on gatekeeper platforms. The Commission will take a decision on these notifications within 45 working days, i.e., by 13 May 2024 at the latest.