U.S. Antitrust Legislation Would Require Users to Be Able to Delete All Pre-Installed Apple Apps [Updated]

Update: Bloomberg inaccurately interpreted the original comments and has since drastically changed the wording of its article. The original Bloomberg piece said that Apple would be prohibited from pre-installing its own apps on iPhones.

The updated Bloomberg article has been rewritten to clarify that the antitrust legislation prohibits Apple from preventing users from removing Apple-created apps on their Apple devices, which is quite different.

Under the legislation, users would need to be permitted to remove any Apple-created app. Apple already allows many of its own apps to be deleted, but core apps like Messages, Photos, and Phone cannot be removed. The bill does NOT prevent Apple from pre-installing its own apps, it prevents Apple from blocking users from deleting pre-installed apps. Our original article is below.


Apple would not be permitted to sell iPhones with its own apps installed under proposed U.S. antitrust legislation that was released last week. Representative David Cicilline confirmed the self-preferencing ban in a discussion with reporters, details of which were shared by Bloomberg.

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Rather than pre-installed apps, Apple would have to offer other app options for consumers to download. Right now, iPhones come with a range of free Apple-designed apps from Messages and FaceTime to Calendar and Notes.

“It would be equally easy to download the other five apps as the Apple one so they’re not using their market dominance to favor their own products and services,” said Cicilline.

Preventing Apple from selling iPhones with its own apps installed would drastically change the iPhone’s setup process, making it considerably less streamlined, more complicated, and potentially more expensive if customers were prompted to purchase or subscribe to third-party apps and services to replicate the functionality that Apple provides at no cost.

According to Cicilline, this would also apply to Amazon Prime because Amazon’s ability to sell its own products over third-party products disadvantages some sellers.

U.S. House lawmakers last week debuted sweeping bipartisan antitrust legislation in the form of five different bills aimed at major tech companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. The bills would apply to businesses that have a market capitalization of $600 billion and at least 50 million monthly active users in the United States.

If passed, these bills would overhaul competition laws that have not been revisited for decades and would lead to significant changes in the tech industry. The House Judiciary Committee will review the five bills at a hearing next week.

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