European Browser Companies Experience Surge in Users Following EU Legislation

In the wake of recent EU legislation, independent browser companies within the European Union are witnessing a notable surge in users, marking a significant shift in the digital landscape dominated by tech giants such as Alphabet’s Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Data shared exclusively with Reuters by six companies highlights this trend.
broadband internet connection usersThe upturn in user numbers follows the implementation of the EU’s expansive Digital Markets Act on March 7, Reuters news report said. This legislation aims to foster fair competition by compelling major tech firms to facilitate easier transitions for users to alternate browsers. Under the new regulations, mobile users are presented with a “choice screen,” enabling them to select from a range of available web browsers.

Traditionally, internet browsers, vital software facilitating internet connectivity, have been monopolized by tech giants like Google and Apple, offered for free in exchange for user data tracking and targeted advertising. Notably, Google’s Chrome browser and Apple’s Safari have maintained dominance in the market, being default options in Android and iPhones, respectively.

Cyprus-based Aloha Browser reported a staggering 250 percent increase in EU users in March, positioning itself as one of the first companies to disclose monthly growth figures post the regulatory changes. Founded in 2016, Aloha distinguishes itself as a privacy-focused alternative to mainstream browsers, boasting 10 million monthly active users. CEO Andrew Frost Moroz revealed that the EU has now become their second-largest market, up from fourth previously.

Other browser companies, including Norway’s Vivaldi, Germany’s Ecosia, and U.S.-based Brave, have also observed a surge in user numbers in the aftermath of the regulatory overhaul.

Furthermore, U.S.-based DuckDuckGo and Norway’s Opera are also witnessing growth, although the full rollout of the choice screen is yet to be completed.

The new EU rules mandate mobile software makers to present users with a choice screen during device setup, allowing them to select preferred browsers, search engines, and virtual assistants. Previously, tech giants pre-loaded devices with default settings, necessitating a cumbersome process for users to change preferences.

Apple, now displaying up to 11 browsers alongside Safari in choice screens tailored for each EU country, commits to updating these annually. While some browsers are available across all 27 countries, others are featured in a varying number of countries.

Although Google has initiated showing browser choices on its devices, the spokesperson refrained from sharing specific data regarding choice screens. Notably, smaller browsers’ growth appears to come at the expense of Safari, particularly on iPhones.

However, browser companies criticize the sluggish rollout of new features by Apple and Google, which they argue hinders the migration of mobile users to alternative browsers. Mozilla, owner of the Firefox browser, reports that only 19 percent of iPhone users in the region received updates, prompting the European Commission to initiate a non-compliance investigation into Apple’s practices. CEO of Vivaldi, Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, deems the selection process convoluted, potentially favoring established names like Safari.