Facing reality, whether it’s about Apple or the EU, is a core requirement for good management

Baldur Bjarnason has written an excellent piece to explain why, exactly, companies like Apple seem wholly incapable of working with the EU, instead of against it. He argues – quite effectively – that Apple, and US tech punditry in general, simply do not understand the EU, nor are they willing to spend even 10 minutes to understand it, which is really all you need. The core premise of the EU, its very primary function, is to enable and protect the single market.

A great example of this is the ban on roaming charges – mobile phone carriers in EU are not allowed to charge extra for using mobile voice and data services in another EU country.

From the EU’s perspective, taking action to prevent private parties from fragmenting and taking private control over the single market simultaneously grew the economy and increased consumer surplus.

This is the operating theory behind much of the actions the EU takes regarding market regulation and product standardisation: a single market built on standards is more profitable for both businesses and consumers.

↫ Baldur Bjarnason

And because Apple and its tech punditry refuse to try and understand the party they are dealing with, they get caught looking like childish idiots every time they open their mouths about it.

Normally when the EU regulates a given sector, it does so with ample lead time and works with industry to make sure that they understand their obligations.

Apple instead thought that the regulatory contact from the EU during the lead time to the DMA was an opportunity for it to lecture the EU on its right to exist. Then its executives made up some fiction in their own minds as to what the regulation meant, announced their changes, only to discover later that they were full of bullshit.

This was entirely Apple’s own fault. For months, we’ve been hearing leaks about Apple’s talks with the EU about the Digital Market Act. Those talks were not negotiations even though Apple seems to have thought they were. Talks like those are to help companies implement incoming regulations, with some leeway for interpretation on the EU’s side to accommodate business interests.

Remember what I wrote about electrical plugs? The EU is pro-business – often criticised for being essentially a pro-business entity – and not in favour of regulation for regulation’s sake.

If Apple had faced reality and tried to understand the facts as they are, they would have used the talks to clarify all of these issues and more well in advance of the DMA taking effect.

But they didn’t because they have caught the tech industry management disease of demanding that reality bend to their ideas and wishes.

↫ Baldur Bjarnason

What a lot of people – both inside and outside the EU – do not grasp is that while we all know the EU has shortcomings and issues, in general, the EU is uncharacteristically (for a government agency) popular among EU citizens, no matter the country of origin. That’s because we, as EU citizens, and especially as EU citizens who do anything international, know just how ridiculously beneficial the EU has been for trade, business, the economy, travel, and so much more.

Apple can keep acting like a whiny trust fund boy who thinks the world owes them everything, but they’ll have to deal with the consequences. Continued violation of the DMA can lead to fines of up to 10% of revenue. That’s 38 billion dollars. I secretly hope Apple keeps this childish behaviour up. It’s deeply entertaining.


  1. 2024-03-05 4:42 pm
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