Australian antitrust regulator mulls regulations to open Apple, Google app stores

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2021
The chair of Australia's competition watchdog says "upfront rules and regulations" might be necessary to curtail perceived effects of Apple and Google's duopoly in the app store space.

iPhone App Store


In a speech prepared for the Global Competition Review webinar scheduled for Thursday, Rod Sims, chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, plans to address the topic of app store competition and outline steps the body may take in response to anti-competition concerns, reports The Guardian.

"It is likely, however, that upfront rules and regulation may be needed to achieve these objectives," Sims said, according to an advance copy of his speech seen by the publication. "We are closely following overseas moves that aim to address the same competition and consumer concerns that we have identified."

Sims goes on to note international efforts to investigate Apple and Google's app store practices, as well as other sectors of the tech giants' respective businesses. For example, the European Commission's scrutiny over Apple Pay and a more recent examination of the App Store are mentioned, the report said.

The government inquiries and a legal thrust initiated by Epic Games against both companies could lead to a more competitive app store marketplace, potentially negating the need for ACCC intervention, Sims suggests. That path would require regulators to have "international coherence and alignment" to succeed, however.

"The key point is that while these enforcement actions and market studies are necessary to tackle the problems arising from dominant digital platforms, they are not enough on their own," Sims says in the speech. "Our own work at the ACCC must be tailored to match our own issues and concerns. But although the finer details of our approaches may vary, competition authorities can still achieve successful global outcomes by aligning their approaches to both enforcement and regulation."

Sims' statements arrive amid an extensive and ongoing ACCC Digital Platform Services Inquiry that scrutinizes various aspects of apps, mobile app stores, internet search, web browsers and more. Reports are issued every six months, with an interim report in April taking aim at preinstalled apps, app payments processing, developer fees and third-party app stores.

Apple for its part lists user security and privacy as key arguments against allowing third-party app distribution on iOS. Google in a statement to The Guardian said it provides a safe and secure platform with the Play Store, but noted that Android users are free to obtain apps through alternative means.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    Page 1 here regarding Apple:

    Bad To Jail Breaking Community

    Bad Not To Use Certain Terms In Asia Region

    Bad Watch

    Bad To Podcasters

    Bad App Store Policy


    It's the supermarket check out line Hollywood gossip magazines -- only this is online and substitute Apple in place of Hollywood. 

    It may be funny but I'm guessing it is where the most clicks come from. The only thing I'd say to that is once you go from A to B, it is very hard to get back to A (even when B stops getting so many clicks)

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 7
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,268member
    Opening the app store or allowing multiple app stores do not solve competition problems.

    The largest smartphone OS is available with numerous stores - many of which are included by default by device manufacturers. However Google's store is dominant on Android OS. Stores that offer alternative rules, rating-free applications, free or pirated software all exist - however the appetite for such stores is small.
    The likes of Epic continually make the argument that there is a great desire for such options, but there isn't, this is evidenced by the low appeal of the Epic store on desktop OS's: where no such limitations exist.

    Smart phones users would be worse off to have a litany of unconnected stores, rather than a single curated option - this is before considering the security, privacy and consumer-protection shortfalls such misalignment introduces.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 7
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,508member
    Opening the app store or allowing multiple app stores do not solve competition problems.

    The largest smartphone OS is available with numerous stores - many of which are included by default by device manufacturers. However Google's store is dominant on Android OS. Stores that offer alternative rules, rating-free applications, free or pirated software all exist - however the appetite for such stores is small.
    The likes of Epic continually make the argument that there is a great desire for such options, but there isn't, this is evidenced by the low appeal of the Epic store on desktop OS's: where no such limitations exist.

    Smart phones users would be worse off to have a litany of unconnected stores, rather than a single curated option - this is before considering the security, privacy and consumer-protection shortfalls such misalignment introduces.
    This problem arose decades ago with the rise of shopping centres. First they drove traffic to the centres themselves (driving many smaller outfits out of business) and then the same stores began appearing in all the shopping centres, eliminating true competition between them.

    Luckily, in the the app store world, 'foot traffic' is not a problem on Android (although it is a problem on iOS) and the presence of alternative stores does provide competition.

    However, competition is a notion that extends beyond the storefront in the digital realm so even Google is likely to get whacked.

    GMS is used anti-competively in some situations. Especially where apps use 'sign in with Google' and GMS is not available on the destination platform.

    All this needs to be unravelled as part of the competition process.

    Yesterday I ordered a tablet running HarmonyOS and knowing full well Google Services is not supported.

    I've been winding down my GMS usage over the past year to fully understand where Google's tentacles reach and their impact. 

    It's clear that something needs to be done with both Apple and Google on a competition front to truly open up platforms to other players on a level playing field. 

  • Reply 4 of 7
    Then on to Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 7
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,818administrator
    Page 1 here regarding Apple:

    Bad To Jail Breaking Community

    Bad Not To Use Certain Terms In Asia Region

    Bad Watch

    Bad To Podcasters

    Bad App Store Policy


    It's the supermarket check out line Hollywood gossip magazines -- only this is online and substitute Apple in place of Hollywood. 

    It may be funny but I'm guessing it is where the most clicks come from. The only thing I'd say to that is once you go from A to B, it is very hard to get back to A (even when B stops getting so many clicks)

    The news cycle is the news cycle. There's not much we can do about it. We don't decide what to write for news based on what we think will get clicks.

    Our Tips and feature pieces get the most traffic, for the most part.
    edited August 2021 watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 7
    I've never understood the handwringing by some Apple fans regarding alternate app stores.  Imo, it would be an inconsequential development soon forgotten by most everyone.  Android has had alternative app stores almost since existence and virtually nothing has happened because of it.  The Play Store is where almost all apps are downloaded.  Pretty sure it would be the same on the iOS side as well.  People go with what they know and they know the App Store.  Same reason jailbreaking and rooting remain niche activities done by niche techies.  Devs dependent on the App Store for their livelihood will remain in the App Store.

    There's no precedent to believe any of the doom and gloom surrounding alternate app stores.  History says they won't amount to anything other than an interesting curiosity.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 7
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,233member
    Anyone who thinks this is being done to benefit consumers is naive especially when Australia is concerned. They've been trying to gain unfettered access to iOS devices for years so they can control everything about it. Remember how long it took to get Apple Pay approval? Look back through AI articles to see thins the Australian government wanted to force Apple into opening, NFC especially. With a separate iOS App Store, they could do anything they'd want to do and Apple would not be able to enforce anything. You can disagree on this but once the door is open Apple's only method of controlling anything is through removing capabilities so certain functions don't work no matter what a developer does. The US would love this as well. They could force apps onto iOS devices to "comply" with new government regulations. We all know what these would include. Am I going too far? Hopefully, but I don't think so. Every government on this planet wants more control over its citizens, some get it, others continue to fight to get it. Remember Apple's 1984-based theme when they announced the Mac? Don't want to let our government dictate everything we do.

    I've said this before, 99.999% of consumers want the iOS store to remain how it is, whether they understand what having an alternative store means or not. They JUST WANT (no, demand) THINGS TO WORK! Do I have data to back this up? Of course not but neither does our government because they don't care about consumers, they only care about lobbyists and whether they want to slow down or stop the progress of certain companies. They won't stop Microsoft, only gave them a slap on the wrist, because US government agencies have too much invested in Microsoft products to change to anything else. Another "Too big to fail" company. 
    watto_cobra
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