Update (March 22, 2024): Added information regarding the U.S. Department of Justice filing an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, citing concerns over monopoly practices.

In the ongoing saga of Big Tech regulation, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) looms large as a pivotal chapter in this story. This legislation, with its March 6, 2024 deadline set by the DMA in Europe, represents a significant milestone in targeting tech giants like Google and Apple. This urgency is underscored by the current market dynamics, where in the US, Apple commands a staggering 61% of the smartphone market, while globally, Android accounts for 72% of all operating systems.

As a result of the EU’s decision, that future now looks brighter than ever. But how did we get here? In this article, we delve into the journey toward the DMA, focusing on the timeline toward mobile-centric tech freedom and consumer choice.


Chronological Timeline: The Journey to DMA and the EU Digital Markets Act


Chronological Timeline: The Journey to DMA


This chronological timeline charts the evolution of regulatory and market responses to monopolistic practices in the tech industry, tracing the journey from early critiques of monopolies in the 18th century to the landmark implementation of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the 21st century, highlighting key developments in antitrust actions against tech giants like Apple and Google, the rise of smartphone ecosystems including mobile OEMs and alternative app stores – plus current global efforts to ensure fair competition and consumer choice.

First, let’s dust off the history books and go all the way back to the late 1700s.



The Early Critique of Monopolies

Monopolies are nothing new. As modern commerce began to expand in the 18th century, people such as the English economist Adam Smith were already railing against them. “The freer and more general the competition” of commercial entities, Smith inveighed in The Wealth of Nations (1786), the more societies are able to avail themselves of the “advantageous” perks of competitive trade. 



Government’s Response to Monopolies

A significant milestone was when governments began to intervene against monopolistic practices. The UK’s 1846 Corn Laws targeted agricultural monopolies, and the US’s 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act tackled broader commercial monopolies. These laws laid the groundwork for future antitrust regulation.


  • 1982

Antitrust Action Against AT&T and IBM

In 1982, the Sherman Antitrust Act was invoked against American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T) and IBM by the Department of Justice, marking a significant challenge against monopolistic practices. While the case against IBM was eventually dropped after a 13-year investigation, the scrutiny had a lasting impact on its business operations.


  • JANUARY 2007

The iPhone Unveiling and the Dawn of the Smartphone Era

In 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, igniting the smartphone revolution. Smartphones were envisioned to merge cell phones with PC power, aiming to liberate consumers. However, Apple and Google’s dominant app stores hindered this potential by charging high fees, restricting alternative options, and limiting consumer choice.


  • JULY 2008

Apple App Store Launched

A year after the iPhone’s debut, Apple launched the App Store, revolutionizing app distribution. From the outset, Apple imposed control with a comprehensive software developer kit (SDK) and strict review guidelines – establishing Apple’s dominant regulatory role.


  • OCTOBER 2008

Google Play Store Launched

On October 22, 2008, Google rolled out the Google Play Store, then known as the Android Market, fundamentally changing app distribution for Android users. This move not only expanded app accessibility but also set the stage for Google’s dominance in the digital marketplace. By centralizing app distribution, Google positioned itself at the heart of Android’s ecosystem.


  • SEPTEMBER 2009

Samsung Joins the App Store Market

In late 2009, Samsung launched Samsung Apps, later rebranded as Samsung Galaxy Store, to provide its users with a platform for accessing apps tailored specifically for Samsung devices. 


  • NOVEMBER 2014

Xiaomi Launches International App Store

Chinese mobile manufacturer Xiaomi opened up an international app store initially catering to developers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore, before gradually expanding to include other countries in subsequent years. During this period, the app store averaged an impressive 50 million downloads per day.


  • MID-2010’s

The Rise of OEM Alternative App Stores

In the mid-2010’s, mobile OEMs Vivo and Oppo launched their own alternative app stores to differentiate their offerings, enhance user experience, and retain customers within their ecosystem. By establishing these platforms, they aimed to provide curated apps and services tailored to their hardware, increasing brand loyalty and competitive edge against both traditional app marketplaces and other OEMs.


  • OCTOBER 2017

The Demise of Windows Phone OS

Once considered a viable alternative to Apple and Google in the early to mid-2010s, the Windows Phone OS meets its end. Despite initial promise, Windows Phone struggled to compete with the dominant iOS and Android platforms, ultimately leading to its demise.


  • MARCH 2018

AVOW Arrives: Vows to Revolutionize Mobile Marketing Outside the Mainstream

Driven by the need to enhance the mobile ecosystem and its marketing and advertising, AVOW was launched to support app developers and mobile brands outside the mainstream with smart, sophisticated marketing strategies. Recognizing that mobile OEMs and alternative app stores are the future, particularly in response to the monopolies held by Apple and Google’s app stores – offering people choice in the mobile landscape.

Fast forward to today, AVOW connects app developers and mobile brands to an untapped audience of over 1.5 billion daily active users (DAU), facilitated through partnerships with major global Mobile OEMs like Huawei, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo. AVOW’s integrated mobile OEM partners cover 54% of the global Android market, ensuring extensive reach and unprecedented opportunities for growth.


  • APRIL 2018

Global Release of Huawei AppGallery

Initially launched in China in 2011, AppGallery, Huawei’s official app distribution platform, expanded globally in April 2018. Alongside other future mobile OEM app stores or alternative app stores, it was designed to provide users and app developers with a diverse selection of applications tailored for Huawei devices – offering an alternative to the app store monopoly dominated by Google and Apple.


  • JULY 2018 & MARCH 2019

EU Commission’s Action Against Google

In 2018 and 2019, the European Commission took significant action against Google, imposing fines of €4.34 billion in July 2018 and €1.49 billion in March 2019 for anti-competitive practices. These fines underscored the heightened regulatory scrutiny on tech monopolies within the EU.


  • MAY 2019

Huawei Banned in the USA, Prompting AppGallery Advancements

In May 2019, Huawei faced a ban in the US initiated by the Trump administration, restricting the Chinese company’s access to American technologies, notably Google services like Android. This spurred Huawei to intensify efforts to enhance its AppGallery, focusing on improving developer support, expanding available apps, and prioritizing security measures. Despite these challenges, Huawei’s proactive approach led to notable enhancements in AppGallery’s functionality, solidifying it as a credible alternative app store.

Additionally, this ban influenced other OEMs to explore and invest in their own app ecosystems as a precaution against similar restrictions.


  • JANUARY 2020

Bye-Bye, Blackberry

In January 2020, BlackBerry, a once-prominent smartphone manufacturer known for its secure messaging services and physical keyboards, announced its closure. This move further consolidated the smartphone platform landscape, leaving Apple and Google as the sole mainstream options for consumers. 


  • JULY 2020

EU Commission’s Call to Action: Setting the Stage for the DMA

In July 2020, the European Commission launched a public consultation to gather opinions on potential issues needing EU-level intervention, laying the groundwork for what would evolve into the Digital Markets Act (DMA).


  • AUGUST 2020

Epic Games Challenges the Status Quo

In August 2020, Epic Games initiated lawsuits against Apple and Google, invoking the Sherman Antitrust Act. The legal challenges targeted the tech giants’ app store policies and payment systems, aiming to disrupt the established norms and practices governing app distribution and monetization.


  • DECEMBER 2020

European Commission Proposes the Digital Markets Act

In December 2020, approximately five months after the conclusion of the public consultation launched by the European Commission, the formal proposal for the Digital Markets Act (DMA) was presented by the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. This proposal aimed to address concerns about the market dominance of Google and Apple, as well as to promote fair competition and consumer choice.


  • MAY – SEPTEMBER 2021 

Epic Games v. Apple

In this high profile lawsuit, Epic Games challenged Apple’s 30% commission on in-app purchases, arguing that it constituted an unfair monopoly. The court’s verdict was mixed, with some rulings favoring Apple and others favoring Epic Games.


  • JULY 2022

DMA Approved

During a full meeting of the European Parliament in July 2022, the DMA received overwhelming approval. Additionally, the Council of the European Union, representing member states, endorsed the legislative text. These steps marked the final stages in the approval process for the DMA.


  • OCTOBER 2022

DMA Published in EU Official Journal

On October 12, the final text of the DMA law was published in the Official Journal of the European Union making it an official legal document.


  • NOVEMBER 2022

Digital Markets Act Becomes Law in the EU

The EU proposed the DMA in July and passed it into law on November 1, 2022. This law aimed to limit the power of major tech companies and encourage competition. 

EU commissioner Thierry Breton expressed the significance of this milestone, stating, “More choice for consumers, fewer obstacles for smaller competitors: the DMA will open the gates to the Internet. It was high time that Europe set the rules of the game upfront to ensure digital markets are fair and open.”


  • MAY 2023

Most of the DMA Became Applicable

On May 2, 2023, the DMA Implementing Regulation officially came into effect, marking the day when the DMA became applicable across the European Union.


  • JULY 2023

Gatekeeper Threshold Notification Under DMA

On July 3, 2023, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) required potential gatekeepers to notify the Commission if they meet specific thresholds outlined in Article 3 of the DMA. These thresholds include factors such as annual turnover (€7.5 billion or more), number of active monthly users (more than 45 million), and market position (met the criteria in each of the previous three financial years).


  • SEPTEMBER 2023

European Commission Designates 6 Gatekeepers, Including Apple and Google

On September 6, 2023, the European Commission identified six gatekeeper companies mandated to comply with the European Digital Markets Act by March 6, 2024. These gatekeepers are Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta (Facebook), and Microsoft. 


  • JANUARY 2023

Apple’s Concessions and DMA Compliance Measures

Following an investigation into its app store practices by the EC that began in 2021, Apple conceded this January to give its rivals in Europe access to its contactless payment system. Moreover, at the same time as Apple announced that it would divide its app store in two in order to conform with the DMA.



Epic Games v. Google

Initiated back in August 2020, Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite, accused Google of monopolistic practices on its Google Play Store. After a jury trial in November and December 2023, the jury found Google guilty on all counts, ruling that its actions violated antitrust laws by maintaining the Play Store as the dominant storefront with Android. This verdict was a significant win for fair competition advocates in the mobile app ecosystem.


  • MARCH 6, 2024

DMA Deadline Day!

In March 2024, tech giants faced a critical deadline to fully comply with the regulations outlined in the Digital Markets Act (DMA). By this deadline, they must have implemented a series of behavioral obligations, which profoundly shape their business policies, and refrain from engaging in any anti-competitive practices.


  • MARCH 21, 2024

U.S. Department of Justice Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against, Citing Monopoly Concerns

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), along with 16 other state and district attorneys general, filed a landmark antitrust lawsuit against Apple. The lawsuit accuses Apple of illegally maintaining a monopoly over smartphones, significantly affecting various aspects, including the security and privacy of users, especially when messaging non-iPhone users.

The complaint specifically states: “Apple wraps itself in a cloak of privacy, security, and consumer preferences to justify its anticompetitive conduct,” and “Apple deploys privacy and security justifications as an elastic shield that can stretch or contract to serve Apple’s financial and business interests.”


  • MAY 6, 2024

DMA Rules Reviewed by EU

The European Commission is required to review the rules and report to the parliament, council, and the Economic and Social Committee on any changes to be made.


  • 2024 AND BEYOND

The World Won’t Wait

The DMA implementation heralds a fairer digital marketplace, likely influencing global regulations. Unsurprisingly, other countries are following suit.

  • South Korea: In 2021, South Korea passed legislation limiting Apple and Google’s control over app-store payments.
  • India: In 2022, India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce proposed DMA-style regulations. 
  • United Kingdom: The UK government has tabled a “pro-competition” Digital Markets Bill.
  • United States: The US Senate is set to consider the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, both of which are comparable to the DMA. Additionally, the US Justice Department is nearing the conclusion of an investigation into Apple, potentially leading to further antitrust action.



The DMA Takeaway


As countries worldwide respond to the challenges posed by digital monopolies, the DMA serves as a catalyst for change, paving the way for a more equitable digital future.

The takeaway from this, however, isn’t that successful companies are bad. On the contrary, as Thierry Breton highlighted, it’s about consumer choice and allowing competition so that there can be more successful companies—not fewer. The world needs big brands. But it also needs smaller companies to achieve scale so that industry and technology can progress. Previously, this just wasn’t possible. But with the DMA’s support, hopefully this will now be the direction of travel elsewhere too. After all, if the EU can get it, why not the world?


Journey Towards DMA: Timeline at a Glance


  • 18th Century: Early Critique of Monopolies by Adam Smith in “The Wealth of Nations” (1786).
  • 19th Century: UK’s Corn Laws (1846) and US’s Sherman Antitrust Act (1890) target monopolies.
  • 1982: Antitrust action against AT&T and IBM by the Department of Justice.
  • Jan 2007: iPhone unveiled by Steve Jobs, sparking the smartphone era.
  • Jun 2007: Release of the first iPhone.
  • Jul 2008: Apple App Store is launched.
  • Oct 2008: Google Play Store is launched (then known as Android Market).
  • Sept 2009. Samsung Galaxy Store is launched (then known as Samsung Apps).
  • Nov 2014: Xiaomi launches international app store.
  • Mid-2010’s: Rise of Alternative App Stores – including Vivo and Oppo.
  • Oct 2017: Demise of Windows Phone OS.
  • Mar 2018: AVOW arrives, aiming to revolutionize mobile marketing outside the mainstream.
  • Apr 2018: Global release of Huawei AppGallery. 
  • July 2018 / March 2019: EU Commission fines Google for anti-competitive practices.
  • May 2019: Huawei banned in the US by the Trump administration.
  • Jan 2020: BlackBerry announces its closure.
  • July 2020: EU Commission launches public consultation for DMA.
  • Aug 2020: Epic Games sues Apple and Google, citing the Sherman Antitrust Act.
  • Dec 2020: European Commission proposes the Digital Markets Act.
  • May – Sept 2021: Epic Games v. Apple lawsuit.
  • Jul 2022: DMA receives approval from the European Parliament.
  • Oct 2022: DMA published in EU Official Journal.
  • Nov 2022: Digital Markets Act becomes law in the EU.
  • May 2023: Most DMA regulations become applicable.
  • Jul 2023: Gatekeeper threshold notification under DMA.
  • Sept 2023: European Commission designates 6 gatekeepers including Apple and Google.
  • Jan 2023: Apple makes concessions for DMA compliance.
  • Nov – Dec 2023: Epic Games v. Google jury trial finds Google guilty of monopolistic practices.
  • Mar 6, 2024: Deadline for tech giants to comply with DMA regulations.
  • Mar 22, 2024: US DOJ sues Apple over monopoly and messaging security.
  • May 6, 2024: EU to review DMA rules.
  • 2024 and Beyond: Global influence of DMA with similar actions in South Korea, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


With Google Play and the Apple Store’s monopolies almost certainly coming to an end, alternative app stores and mobile OEMs are not just the future, they are the now, offering unprecedented opportunities for app developers and mobile brands. Contact our team today to unlock the potential of mobile OEM advertising.