Apple CEO meets with EU competition chief to talk sideloading iPhone apps


European Union's commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager and APple CEO Tim Cook.
Margrethe Vestager and Tim Cook had an in-person meeting with some weighty issues on the table.
Photo: Margrethe Vestager

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s commissioner for competition, met with Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday to discuss the upcoming EU requirement that iPhone users be able to install applications from outside the App Store, aka sideloading.

Vestager also says the two discussed the EU’s investigation into whether Apple Music is anticompetitive.

Cook and Vestager discuss sideloading iPhone apps

Third-party iOS software must be installed onto iPhone (and iPad) via the App Store. Unlike Mac, applications can’t come directly from websites. The European Union judged that to be too restrictive, so sideloading apps is required by the EU’s Digital Markets Act.

Apple saw the writing was on the wall many months ago and has been quietly working behind the scenes to make this change in a future version of iOS. It’s required to go into effect before the end of March.

Margrethe Vestager said via X (formerly Twitter) that one of the main points of her meeting Thursday with Tim Cook was “compliance w/ #DMA, e.g. @Apple’s obligation to allow the distribution of #apps outside the @AppStore.”

Apple has done all it can to resist the requirement to allow sideloading applications on iPhone, and Cook himself says it will “undermine privacy and security.” The change will reportedly only happen in the EU, not anywhere else.

Specifics of the conversation between Vestager and the Apple CEO were not revealed.

And Apple Music, too

Another hot topic was on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting as well. The EU is expected to soon announce a decision after a years-long investigation into whether Apple gives its music streaming service Apple Music unfair advantages.

The investigation centers on Apple forbidding rival streaming services from sending their customers directly to their websites to sign up for subscriptions. Instead, they’re required to use the App Store’s payment system, which takes a significant share of the revenue.

Vestager’s post on X says she and CEO discussed “ongoing @EU_Competition cases e.g. @AppleMusic” without going into more detail.


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