Developers protest Apple’s ‘ban’ on third-party browsers

A group of developers is fighting the dominance of Apple’s Safari browser on their iPhone and iPad devices, insisting that the company is engaged in anti-competitive practices.

Open Web Advocacy (OWA), a group of developers based in the United Kingdom, whose self-declared purpose is to allow third parties access to all the features that Safari likes but is not available in Apple WebKit Browser Engine; WebKit is the core software component of the Safari browser.

“The only way for developers to make stable apps, potentially, is to invest in Apple’s proprietary platform, which it taxes and holds monopoly control over,” OWA wrote in a new sheet of paper.

“Browser vendors are not allowed to ship their browsers that they have spent hundreds of thousands of hours developing,” OWA continued. “To replace [developers] forced to manufacture a separate browser, essentially a thin wrapper or skin around the WebKit engine in Apple’s own browser, Safari. ”

As the default browser on iOS devices and iPads, Safari accounts for 39.4% of all mobile browser traffic, according to web analytics services StatCounter. Google’s Chrome browser still holds the No. 1 position with 46.3% of traffic.

On the desktop, that’s a completely different story. Chrome still holds the top spot – with a share of 65.38% – with Microsoft Edge now being used on 9.54% of desktops worldwide, just behind Safari with 9.84%. Mozilla Firefox leads with 9.18% market share.

Mobile devices typically come with at least one app store and a browser pre-installed on them, which makes them the primary channels through which users and content providers can connect connection for content delivery.

Apple and Google control those major gateways – Apple’s versions of the Android operating system compatible with iOS and Google – through which users access content on mobile devices, and through which content providers can access content on mobile devices. can reach potential customers.

Safari is used by more than 90% of iOS device owners and Chrome is used by 75% of Android device owners, meaning the two companies have a very high percentage of browser usage in the mobile ecosystem. their respective, according to UK statistics. Competition and Market Authority.

First reported by MacRumorsOWA argues Apple’s policy is a “clear conflict of interest with third-party browsers” and notes that the company receives $15 billion a year from Google for placing the search engine in Safari in when it comes to making sure other browsers can’t compete effectively on iOS.

By contrast, OWA said, the nonprofit Mozilla makes a better browser (Firefox), consistently outperforms Apple in security and standards compliance, and “with less than $500 million in revenue per year.” five”.

There will be little pressure from any group to convince Apple to open its mobile platform to third-party browser developers, said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates.

“Apple believes that Webkit is the superior way to browse the web, and probably doesn’t want others to experiment with things that might embarrass Apple (i.e. work better than Webkit).

Apple also believes it has optimized its hardware for Android Webkit and Webview and may be concerned another browser engine could slow performance, affect battery life and/or cause problems. security topic.

“And if that happens, Apple could be held liable, even if it’s not covered under warranty,” Gold said. “Ultimately, like Google with Android, Apple has a vested interest in making sure its own products are used when you surf the web.”

The “browser ban”, as OWA called it, “prevents the emergence of a free and open global platform for apps, where developers can build their apps once and it works on all consumer devices, be it desktop, laptop, tablet or phone.

“Instead, it forces companies to create many separate applications to run on each platform, significantly increasing the cost and complexity of development and maintenance. These costs plus the 15% – 30% tax charged by the App Store,” OWA said.

The team argues that this larger cost ends up being passed on to consumers in the form of higher fees, more error-prone apps, and apps not being available on all platforms.

“This then reduces competition with other manufacturers by depriving them of a healthy library of apps,” OWA said.

What will make Apple change? Gold says:

“That’s unlikely to happen,” he said.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc. Developers protest Apple’s ‘ban’ on third-party browsers

Fry Electronics Team

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