Bill targeting App Store will harm consumers & app ecosystems, claims think tank

Posted:
in iOS
The "Open App Markets Act" could cause severe trauma to the App Store ecosystem, a think tank warns, with the proposed legislation potentially damaging the value of iOS and Android as platforms for consumers.




Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are attempting to curb the market power of digital storefronts such as Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store. A pair of bills were introduced in April titled the "Open App Markets Act," which included a number of measures that could weaken the tech giants' market control.

These include a ban on app stores requiring developers to use their payment systems, another ban on app stores punishing apps for offering different pricing structures via other platforms, and to ban app stores from using non-public information to compete with third parties.

In a blog post for the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank, non-resident fellow Mark Jamison offers that the legislation is an example of lawmakers "mistaking great products for market power."

Jamison is a director and Gunter Professor of the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business. He has also worked with different branches of government, including as a member of an FCC transition team, and a special adviser to the chair of the governor of Florida's Internet task force, among other areas.

The bill sponsors believe Apple and Google are "wielding incredible power" and are denying "startup tech companies a fighting chance" by adopting practices that are "a direct afront to a free and fair marketplace."

According to a working paper Jamison contributed to that looked at how startups chose to use iOS, Android, both, or neither platform, most firms analyzed viewed iOS and Android as "clear substitutes or at least complements" to each other. This implied Apple and Google are in competition for the business of the startups.

Of those who had a clear preference for iOS or Android, they were apparently indifferent on using mobile platforms at all, "also implying no market power," says Jamison.

The working paper also determined that the app economy is "vibrant and robust, in direct contradiction with the senators' claims," with U.S. startup businesses accelerating rapidly after the introduction of the iPhone.

It was also determined the number of app publishers receiving more than $2 million in 2020 was up 25%, while the use of finance-related apps by Americans increased 90%.

"Market power is the ability to raise prices and suppress output without inviting more competition. Apple and Google appear to be encouraging growth, not suppressing it," reasons Jamison. "And their fees appear on par with platforms."

However, Jamison believes the bills would "ironically" damage the value consumers gain from the platforms, because they will "run counter to what consumers want."

One example points out that Google already allows app store sideloading, while Apple does not, with consumers and some developers apparently preferring those choice.

"Google caters to techies, while Apple serves people who love their slick, easy-to-use devices," he adds. "The act would make iOS more like Android and, in doing so, would damage the people-oriented technology leader that Steve Jobs created."

Jamison goes on to refer to the Thomas Sowell "anointed" illusion, in that where the so-called anointed see a system they think is wrong in some way, they "conclude that they should impose their vision on others, not realizing their lack of knowledge will make things worse."

The bills arrive at a time when the App Store faces intense scrutiny. Antitrust bills in the House are intended to reduce the amount of power tech giants wield, following a months-long investigation into market power.

Apple is also waiting for a decision to be made in its legal battle with Epic Games, over its App Store guidelines and commission tiers.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,263member
    Finally someone who’s thinking about the consumers. Tech companies don’t wield anymore power than oil companies, big box stores or crooked politicians. This is all diversion from what the real problems are in this country and world. 
    genovellej2fusionKTRArchStantonkillroywatto_cobrajony0Detnator
  • Reply 2 of 25
    I call BS, this think tank is probably funded by Google / Apple

    Do I agree with forcing companies to allow other payment methods inside of their App Store? Absolutely not.

    Do I think developers should be able to publish software outside of the App Store that Apple deems unsuitable for it? Absolutely, yes!

    Customers having a side-channel will allow developers to publish software that Apple doesn't want on the App Store, it will allow apps like emulators, game streaming, Kodi, "adult" apps, and any software that Apple may decide they don't want available to iOS users in the future.

    Them blocking game streaming is  anti-trust and I don't know how they haven't been sued for it.

    Them blocking emulators serves no purpose for the consumer other than to encourage them to buy new games on the App Store, possibly ports of the old games they already own copies of.
    edited August 2021 williamlondonlam92103
  • Reply 3 of 25
    ronnronn Posts: 669member
    No mention that AEI is a rightward corporate puppet of a think tank. Of course they'll side with corporate interests. This isn't about protecting consumers. It's about protecting profits by any means necessary.
    dantheman827williamlondonlam92103baconstang
  • Reply 4 of 25
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,263member
    ronn said:
    No mention that AEI is a rightward corporate puppet of a think tank. Of course they'll side with corporate interests. This isn't about protecting consumers. It's about protecting profits by any means necessary.
    Fine, then who has consumer’s interests? Probably nobody. 
    williamlondonKTRkillroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 25
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,486member
    I really hope we don't end up in a "race to the bottom" with app stores. I remember a time when we had full service department stores staffed with people who actually could help you with purchase decisions by being knowledgeable about the products they were selling. These middlemen in the sales channel added a bit to the cost but they also added value for most shoppers.

    Apple's App Store adds value, both in terms of establishing a high level of confidence that the app does what it says it does and that it doesn't leave poop skid marks all over you or your device. The moderated review system helps separate the wheat from the chaff. Is it perfect? No, but it's more than worth the added cost we're paying for the apps we buy from the App Store, even when they are free.

    The race to the bottom in other "stores" has left us with Amazon and its sketchy review process, Super Walmarts as a dumping ground for China's wares, Big Box-o-Ramas where you get to play warehouse worker for a day, and my personal favorite, a "Dollar" type store on every-other intersection, all staffed by customer service agnostic people who by-and-large have absolutely no knowledge about what they are selling scanning at the POS checkout. We've saved a few dollars by stripping all semblance of professionalism and customer service out of the sales channel so we can maintain the lowest possible pricing and by building all products wherever and by whomever it's as cheap as humanly robotically possible.

    I'm just not feeling the need for yet another institution that has served customers so well descending into the crappification tarpit that all races to the bottom eventually end up in.  


    rob53roundaboutnowwonkothesanebaconstangstourquekillroyJanNLwatto_cobrajony0Detnator
  • Reply 6 of 25
    rob53 said:
    ronn said:
    No mention that AEI is a rightward corporate puppet of a think tank. Of course they'll side with corporate interests. This isn't about protecting consumers. It's about protecting profits by any means necessary.
    Fine, then who has consumer’s interests? Probably nobody. 
    Which is why you need to contact your senators to express your opinion on the bill, they need to hear from people who actually use these devices, not just the corporate shills that want to prevent anything like this from ever passing.

    https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/117/s2710/comment

    I'm personally for this bill mostly... I don't like the part about forcing store owners to allow alternative payment methods, but I absolutely agree on the aspect of them being required to allow app distribution outside of their store.

    Google and Apple are both guilty here, Google blocks device manufacturers from bundling stores that weren't made by the manufacturer, Apple has the power to block any app from the majority of the US mobile market and have abused this power recently with game streaming and most recently by removing iDOS2 from the App Store after having been available since 2014.

    On the Apple side, requiring a side channel for users to install software would take care of those issues.

    On the Google side, they absolutely shouldn't be able to prevent device manufacturers from making deals with other companies to include their software inside the OS image.
    edited August 2021 williamlondonlam92103
  • Reply 7 of 25
    dewme said:
    I really hope we don't end up in a "race to the bottom" with app stores. I remember a time when we had full service department stores staffed with people who actually could help you with purchase decisions by being knowledgeable about the products they were selling. These middlemen in the sales channel added a bit to the cost but they also added value for most shoppers.

    Apple's App Store adds value, both in terms of establishing a high level of confidence that the app does what it says it does and that it doesn't leave poop skid marks all over you or your device. The moderated review system helps separate the wheat from the chaff. Is it perfect? No, but it's more than worth the added cost we're paying for the apps we buy from the App Store, even when they are free.

    The race to the bottom in other "stores" has left us with Amazon and its sketchy review process, Super Walmarts as a dumping ground for China's wares, Big Box-o-Ramas where you get to play warehouse worker for a day, and my personal favorite, a "Dollar" type store on every-other intersection, all staffed by customer service agnostic people who by-and-large have absolutely no knowledge about what they are selling scanning at the POS checkout. We've saved a few dollars by stripping all semblance of professionalism and customer service out of the sales channel so we can maintain the lowest possible pricing and by building all products wherever and by whomever it's as cheap as humanly robotically possible.

    I'm just not feeling the need for yet another institution that has served customers so well descending into the crappification tarpit that all races to the bottom eventually end up in.  


    You don't have to shop at these stores, there are other ones available with more knowledgeable staff, and usually they sell at a higher markup.

    The difference is you have that choice with retail, but with iOS your only choice is the App Store.
    williamlondonlam92103killroy
  • Reply 8 of 25
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,481member
    I call BS, this think tank is probably funded by Google / Apple

    Do I agree with forcing companies to allow other payment methods inside of their App Store? Absolutely not.

    Do I think developers should be able to publish software outside of the App Store that Apple deems unsuitable for it? Absolutely, yes!

    Customers having a side-channel will allow developers to publish software that Apple doesn't want on the App Store, it will allow apps like emulators, game streaming, Kodi, "adult" apps, and any software that Apple may decide they don't want available to iOS users in the future.

    Them blocking game streaming is  anti-trust and I don't know how they haven't been sued for it.

    Them blocking emulators serves no purpose for the consumer other than to encourage them to buy new games on the App Store, possibly ports of the old games they already own copies of.
    They can publish them outside the AppStore using their own technology or webapp. 
    williamlondonmac_dogkillroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 25
    genovelle said:
    I call BS, this think tank is probably funded by Google / Apple

    Do I agree with forcing companies to allow other payment methods inside of their App Store? Absolutely not.

    Do I think developers should be able to publish software outside of the App Store that Apple deems unsuitable for it? Absolutely, yes!

    Customers having a side-channel will allow developers to publish software that Apple doesn't want on the App Store, it will allow apps like emulators, game streaming, Kodi, "adult" apps, and any software that Apple may decide they don't want available to iOS users in the future.

    Them blocking game streaming is  anti-trust and I don't know how they haven't been sued for it.

    Them blocking emulators serves no purpose for the consumer other than to encourage them to buy new games on the App Store, possibly ports of the old games they already own copies of.
    They can publish them outside the AppStore using their own technology or webapp. 
    That's not an option for many apps... add to that the fact that webapps aren't even a consideration when talking about performance.

    Native apps are the only option for most things that are blocked from the App Store... even game streaming suffers as a web app because they can't use their proprietary codec optimized for low latency and are instead forced to use whatever codec Apple feels like supporting...

    Web apps quite frankly suck for anything beyond the absolute simplest things.

    You wouldn't be able to write an emulator that even comes close to the performance of native...

    There's also things like Kodi that require access to local devices on your network in order to access your media to actually play, web apps don't give you anything that could be used for that.
    edited August 2021 williamlondongatorguylam92103killroy
  • Reply 10 of 25
    Think tank "sponsored" by Apple?
    Probably all apps will continue to be available from Apple's App Store – so the customer can choose to trust only Apple.
    Choice is a good thing – Apple has just to make sure that apps from all sources run in the sandboxed environment for security.
    lam92103killroy
  • Reply 11 of 25
    xyzzy-xxx said:
    Think tank "sponsored" by Apple?
    Probably all apps will continue to be available from Apple's App Store – so the customer can choose to trust only Apple.
    Choice is a good thing – Apple has just to make sure that apps from all sources run in the sandboxed environment for security.
    All apps already run in a sandbox for security, sideloaded or not.
    lam92103
  • Reply 12 of 25
    lmasanti said:
    Please, FCC/FTC/lawmakers… ASK CUSTOMERS, PLEASE!

    Make a survey —aka the one on broadband or better—.
    1- Telcos will send all users a lint to a site —they surely know all their users!—.
    2- In the site, your cellphone number will be used ONLY to check that you judy vote once and to know your cellphones’ OS/model.
    3- Based on the OS option, you'll be asked about things like app store, privacy, etc. —if you use Android you won't be able to answer on iOS' questions and viceversa—.
    4- The survey can also be used to ask customers about the tracking ad systems —Facebooks, Instagrams, etc.—

    And we will know what customers… who put their money on the device… want.
    That'll probably never happen unless corporate lobbying becomes illegal, which will never happen because any attempt to do so will be met with billions of dollars being spent lobbying to prevent anything like that from happening.
    lam92103stourquekillroy
  • Reply 13 of 25
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 424member
    ...
    Customers having a side-channel will allow developers to publish software that Apple doesn't want on the App Store, it will allow apps like emulators, game streaming, Kodi, "adult" apps, and any software that Apple may decide they don't want available to iOS users in the future.

    ...
    Unfortunately, aside from allowing all the apps you mention, it'll also allow malware to enter a user's iPhone.  And guess who gets the support burden or the blame or the repetitional damage?  Apple, of course.  That customer will scream at Apple for their iPhone having been infected, for the iCloud data having disappeared, etc....they won't tie it back to that app they downloaded many months ago from that "side channel".

    Another scenario, closer to home: our family has 3 iPhones under the same Apple ID.  We're all adults, but some of us (i.e. my daughter) are a lot more 'relaxed' about security than I am.  What if she ends up side-loading a malicious app - and it ends up siphoning off private information from our shared iCloud account?

    The fact is that many of us bought iPhones in the belief (whether it's a wrong belief is an entirely separate discussion) that iPhones were more secure because with respect to applications, they only had one entry point.  One could argue that Apple designed its entire ecosystem with that single "weak point" assumed.  If, suddenly, unchecked applications ran in this ecosystem, who knows what the security implications would be.  Apple's ecosystem certainly would no longer  provide the security many of us depended on.
    baconstangkillroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 25
    I call BS, this think tank is probably funded by Google / Apple

    Do I agree with forcing companies to allow other payment methods inside of their App Store? Absolutely not.

    Do I think developers should be able to publish software outside of the App Store that Apple deems unsuitable for it? Absolutely, yes!

    Customers having a side-channel will allow developers to publish software that Apple doesn't want on the App Store, it will allow apps like emulators, game streaming, Kodi, "adult" apps, and any software that Apple may decide they don't want available to iOS users in the future.

    Them blocking game streaming is  anti-trust and I don't know how they haven't been sued for it.

    Them blocking emulators serves no purpose for the consumer other than to encourage them to buy new games on the App Store, possibly ports of the old games they already own copies of.
    I remember the early days of the Mac ... software on sale via mail order and you never knew what you were getting.

    To counter that, there were computer stores which partially catered to the Mac - though to a small degree since PCs were such a larger market - where you could find apps in physical boxes but no one there could tell you much about them, and magazines you could go to who would do more comprehensive comparisons of products in a category ticking off features and quality against price.

    At the stores you had bigger software publishers and always suspected that the store clerks pushing a product were doing it because their profit margins were higher and the software publishers were rewarding the sales staff. Smaller indie stuff you could only count on finding out from the magazines and their product category comparisons, though you might find a box with an old version of the software on a store shelf.

    Those magazines either no longer exist, or stopped doing comprehensive comparisons years ago as their profit margins and circulation dwindled.

    I remember when I could go to a Mac magazine and read a comprehensive comparison of printers and pick the one which satisfied my feature list and budget - now all you get are reviews of single printers spread willy nilly through dozens of articles. It's amazing to me how much time I had to take to select a replacement for my Brother MFC-L8850CDW multifunction printer whose Work Center software had been obsoleted by 64-bit-only, and it was only through my own research that I was able to find the HP M479fdw to replace it with something like the same feature set.

    Say what you will, but the app stores have largely replaced the information infrastructure which existed in the past, and Apple does a relatively good job of keeping vendor loaded reviews under control - unlike say the Amazon store where Chinese counterfeit products supplant original products and reviews are loaded with fraudulent recommendations.

    Do I want the kind of wild wild west you seem to be advocating - but in actuality may not know what you're asking for?

    Nyet.

    Be careful what you ask for: you just may get it.
    baconstangkillroywatto_cobrajony0Detnator
  • Reply 15 of 25
    j2fusionj2fusion Posts: 153member
    dewme said:
    I really hope we don't end up in a "race to the bottom" with app stores. I remember a time when we had full service department stores staffed with people who actually could help you with purchase decisions by being knowledgeable about the products they were selling. These middlemen in the sales channel added a bit to the cost but they also added value for most shoppers.

    Apple's App Store adds value, both in terms of establishing a high level of confidence that the app does what it says it does and that it doesn't leave poop skid marks all over you or your device. The moderated review system helps separate the wheat from the chaff. Is it perfect? No, but it's more than worth the added cost we're paying for the apps we buy from the App Store, even when they are free.

    The race to the bottom in other "stores" has left us with Amazon and its sketchy review process, Super Walmarts as a dumping ground for China's wares, Big Box-o-Ramas where you get to play warehouse worker for a day, and my personal favorite, a "Dollar" type store on every-other intersection, all staffed by customer service agnostic people who by-and-large have absolutely no knowledge about what they are selling scanning at the POS checkout. We've saved a few dollars by stripping all semblance of professionalism and customer service out of the sales channel so we can maintain the lowest possible pricing and by building all products wherever and by whomever it's as cheap as humanly robotically possible.

    I'm just not feeling the need for yet another institution that has served customers so well descending into the crappification tarpit that all races to the bottom eventually end up in.  


    You don't have to shop at these stores, there are other ones available with more knowledgeable staff, and usually they sell at a higher markup.

    The difference is you have that choice with retail, but with iOS your only choice is the App Store.
    So when Facebook and others like it move their apps exclusively to an alternative store that does not require Ad Tracking Transparency or disclose how they will use your data, you’ll be ok with that?  Once alternative stores are available, Apple will lose all the power it wields to protect the consumer. All the hoopla over ATT shows the power of a single store. Yes, I know there is no such thing as a benevolent dictator but Apple seems to be building a brand on consumer protection (current picture scanning controversy aside) and the bill as it stands will limit its ability to do so. 
    edited August 2021 baconstangkillroywatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 16 of 25
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,926member
    I call BS, this think tank is probably funded by Google / Apple

    Do I agree with forcing companies to allow other payment methods inside of their App Store? Absolutely not.

    Do I think developers should be able to publish software outside of the App Store that Apple deems unsuitable for it? Absolutely, yes!

    Customers having a side-channel will allow developers to publish software that Apple doesn't want on the App Store, it will allow apps like emulators, game streaming, Kodi, "adult" apps, and any software that Apple may decide they don't want available to iOS users in the future.

    Them blocking game streaming is  anti-trust and I don't know how they haven't been sued for it.

    Them blocking emulators serves no purpose for the consumer other than to encourage them to buy new games on the App Store, possibly ports of the old games they already own copies of.
    Who gets blamed if a side loaded app bricks your device? Who gets blamed if a side loaded app steals all your information? 

    The media and Twitter would not make a distinction between App Store apps and side loaded apps. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 25
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,043member
    I am starting to think this whole App Store Law has nothing to do with antitrust, the government knows if it was about antitrust they would just use the laws already on the books and take Apple to court and make them divest. I believe this is government backdoor solution they been trying to gain on the iPhone. Think about how many time the government screamed about gaining access to the phone and threating to take Apple to court. This has never happen, they claimed they did not have too since they got the information they wanted. The reality of the situation was the government would never have won, otherwise, they would have done it, but they also did not want to loose and create case law which would make it hard for them.

    If the government passes a law to allow other stores, that mean Apple will have to reduce their security or provide the credential to other stores load software on the phone. Once this happen than in theory the government could also gain access, either going to one of those stores or creating their own store.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 25
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,678member
    Said before, will continue to say it…

    Apple’s platform. Apple’s devices. There’s no reason they should be restricted from producing products they want to make. People who have a problem with what features are available and how those features work, have a CHOICE to use a different product. There are many alternatives to iPhones and iPads.

    There is a time when it becomes necessary to monitor a company’s behavior… that’s when they have a monopoly and have the leverage to control markets and coerce competitors.

    The real concern here has NOTHING to do with consumers - IT IS ALL ABOUT money. Apple is making a lot of money and a lot of people have an issue with that. They want their cut.
    baconstangkillroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 25
    KTRKTR Posts: 280member
    rob53 said:
    ronn said:
    No mention that AEI is a rightward corporate puppet of a think tank. Of course they'll side with corporate interests. This isn't about protecting consumers. It's about protecting profits by any means necessary.
    Fine, then who has consumer’s interests? Probably nobody. 
    we, have our own interest.  WE, THE PEOPLE.  REMENBER?
  • Reply 20 of 25
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,678member
    j2fusion said:
    So when Facebook and others like it move their apps exclusively to an alternative store that does not require Ad Tracking Transparency or disclose how they will use your data, you’ll be ok with that?  Once alternative stores are available, Apple will lose all the power it wields to protect the consumer. All the hoopla over ATT shows the power of a single store. Yes, I know there is no such thing as a benevolent dictator but Apple seems to be building a brand on consumer protection (current picture scanning controversy aside) and the bill as it stands will limit its ability to do so. 

    Not to change the subject, but there’s nothing anti-consumer protection about what Apple is doing. This is purely a case of people not knowing what’s happening and just reacting. Every time Apple does something, it gets blown WAY out of proportion by some anti-Apple site/blog and gets regurgitated all over the internet. Negative misinformation spreads faster than a wild fire. How many cringe-worthy interviews performed by a house committee have we seen? Completely clueless. Same thing here.

    When the dust settles, people will eventually (finally) realize Apple has done a lot to continue to protect user privacy. It seems extremely short-sighted to go insta-pessimistic over a company that has proven time and time again that it puts user security and privacy at the top.
    dewmewatto_cobrajony0
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