EU iPhone rules prove browser choice should come to the US

Consumer choice is important and, while it’s easy to search through the App Store and find a browser that isn’t the built-in Safari app, it feels like you should be presented with all of the options when you’re setting up your iPhone or Android phone, right?

Well, the European Union thought so — so much that they considered control of the default browser the moves of monopolies and passed the Digital Markets Act which forced both Apple and Google to give consumers more choice over the default browser on their smartphones when setting them up.

The Digital Markets Act took effect on March 7th and, one month later, third-party browser growth is surging in the European Union. As reported by Reuters, the Cyprus-based Aloha, one of the third-party browsers now featured when setting up an iPhone, said users in the EU jumped 250% in March. Aloha CEO Andrew Frost Moroz said in an interview “Before, EU was our number four market, right now it’s number two.”

DuckDuckGo, Opera, Vivaldi, Ecosia, and Brave have all also reported accelerated user growth for their browsers since the Digital Markets Act went into effect last month. Jan Standal, vice president at Opera, said in a statement “We are experiencing record user numbers in the EU right now.”

Browser choice needs to come to the United States

It’s pretty simple: give users a choice, and they’ll make different choices. The Digital Markets Act in the EU is proving that quite handily based on the growth seen by third-party browsers so far. The same kind of choice needs to come to the United States for iPhone and Android users.

I’m not saying the current implementation is perfect. As the report explains, “On iPhones, users can see the choice screen only when they click Safari, and then users are shown a list of browsers with no additional information,” said Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, CEO of Norway’s Vivaldi. “The process is just so convoluted that it’s easiest for (users) to select Safari or potentially some other known name.”

Users should be presented with more information about each browser, of course. I mean, Apple was the company to introduce nutritional facts for apps — it should do the same when you’re choosing a browser when setting up your phone.

Mozilla, which owns Firefox browser, estimates that only 19% of iPhone users in the region received an update in a roll-out that appeared much slower than previous software updates, the company said.

Despite those issues, third-party browsers are still experiencing growth — and record growth, in some cases. The EU has proven that these kinds of options need to exist for everyone, whether they live in the EU or not. And that choice needs to extend beyond browsers — search engines, voice assistants, and many more should be choices that consumers are educated on to make informed decisions.

I hope that this is just the start of something much bigger and more widespread.

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