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Do Google and Mozilla know something about Apple we don’t?


Yet more signals suggest Apple may be preparing to open hitherto closed elements of its ecosystem: both Google and Mozilla are working on iOS web browsers that don’t use WebKit, Apple’s rendering engine.

Mozilla and Google seem to be prepping

Mozilla’s GitHub repository now contains code for Firefox on iOS that uses the company’s own Gecko rendering engine rather than WebKit. And Google’s Chromium team is building an iOS browser that uses its own Blink code for rendering. This is significant, since Apple insists all iOS browsers use its own rendering engine.

Coming hot on the heels of an avalanche of regulatory probes into Apple’s business practices, it suggests:

  • Both companies know Apple is planning to implement this change.
  • They believe regulators will force it to do so.
  • They want to be ready in case Apple does relax its WebKit restriction.

We do know that the requirement that browsers support WebKit is one of the restrictions regulators remain critical of. Numerous regulators are exploring Apple’s business; most recently, both the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the US and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK criticized the approach.

What can Apple afford to change first?

Apple will inevitably be considering the arguments made against its business practices, and it seems plausible it will want to make what changes it can make before being forced to do so.

In part, this will enable the company to prove attempted good faith while resisting changes in practices company executives might consider existential.

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