EU competition legislation gives alternative browser a 250% boost

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The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), effective from March 7, 2024, is beginning to reshape the mobile browser landscape by promoting competition and choice. The DMA mandates major phone manufacturers to offer browser choice screens, allowing users to consider alternatives to dominant browsers like Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome.

Initial reports suggest a positive impact for smaller browser developers. Cyprus-based Aloha, along with Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi, reported increased user interest and app downloads since the DMA’s implementation. Despite the varied pace of rollout across EU countries and devices, the regulation’s influence is evident, though it remains early days for comprehensive impact assessment.

The EU’s aim with the DMA is to dilute the operational advantages held by “gatekeepers” of the internet, ensuring a fairer digital market. However, concerns persist over the choice screens’ design and implementation, with some arguing they do not sufficiently inform users or offer a real choice. The European Commission, Apple, and Google have yet to share detailed data on the DMA’s effects.

Alternative browsers report varied growth rates, with Aloha witnessing a 250% increase in new EU users and Opera seeing significant gains in both new downloads and users setting it as their default browser on iOS. Vivaldi and Brave also experienced notable upticks in downloads and installs, respectively.

Despite these positive signs, some browser makers, including DuckDuckGo and Firefox, caution it’s too soon to definitively assess the DMA’s long-term effects. Challenges remain, such as ensuring choice screens are seen by a wider audience and addressing design flaws that may limit the effectiveness of these initiatives.

The DMA’s early days hint at a potential shift towards greater browser diversity in the EU, challenging the dominance of tech giants and sparking a broader dialogue on digital competition and consumer choice.

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