Apple took to the court stand with its software chief, Craig Federighi, last night – in the ongoing Epic vs Apple lawsuit saga. Interestingly, instead of taking the apps route to address the ongoing legal battle, Federighi chose to go the security way. In an unprecedented move, Federighi, who himself is in charge of iOS and macOS, threw the Mac ecosystem under the bus by criticising its security levels. After dwelling upon the scale of users that iOS has and also on Android’s security troubles, Federighi went on to state that Macs have a “significantly larger malware problem”.
‘If operated correctly’
Federighi compared computers to cars, stating that while cars can be taken off-road or on practically any surface, there is a certain level of responsibility in the way a car should be operated. He then drew this analogy on to Macs, stating that while macOS devices have a bigger malware and cyber security threat than iOS devices in comparison, they would be perfectly safe, “if operated correctly.”
The Apple software chief then used this context to state that this is the state of affairs, despite Mac devices having “less than a tenth” the installed user base as that of iOS. In effect, with this argument, Apple aimed to establish that this has been possible because of restricted app download sources on iOS – something that Epic is fighting against. In the lawsuit, one of Epic’s biggest claims is Apple’s stranglehold on its app ecosystem. The game publisher and developer has alleged that such practices lead to unfair market conditions for those working hard to promote their software on Apple platforms, and leave them with no option but to pay Apple a sizeable chunk of the revenue that would otherwise be rightfully theirs.
A closer Apple ecosystem?
With this argument, Apple made a seemingly strong case – further strengthened by Federighi highlighting Android and its security issues as well. Citing how iOS has succeeded in “staying ahead of the malware problem”, Federighi further went on to cite the above points to state that the root cause of Mac’s larger security problems is the presence of many app stores on it, which is not the case on iOS. He stated that it iOS “has established a dramatically higher bar for customer protection. The Mac is not meeting that bar today.”
In ways, Federighi’s testimony can be seen as a hint towards Apple’s rumoured plans to streamline macOS and make it work closer to iOS – something that may entail a more restricted app market on Mac PCs as well. So far, Macs have the freedom of installing third party software, something that undoubtedly comes of help for many buyers. However, Apple has somewhat always believed in offering a more closely knit experience and not leave too much in the hands of users, which becomes clear from Federighi’s testimony last night.
With the new M series Apple Silicon chips, Apple is anyway looking to forge a closer relationship with developers and have them publish more by Apple’s own standards. Whether this testimony will help Apple sway the conversation their way remains to be seen, but one thing is quite clear – contrary to iOS evolving more towards macOS, Apple is likely looking at turning macOS into a more integrated and closed ecosystem the way iOS is today.
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