Australian Watchdog to Scrutinize Apple And Google App Store Practices
Australian watchdog is set for another confrontation after the proposed news bargaining law with the U.S tech giants Google and Apple, it’s now turning its attention to mobile apps stores. On Tuesday,8th September Australian regulator announced to investigate over a range of issues including the use and sharing of data by apps, the extent of competition between Google and Apple’s app stores, and whether more pricing transparency is needed in Australia’s mobile apps market.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said in a press release that it is also “interested in how data is used and shared in the app ecosystem, including the data available to Google and Apple as a result of their control of the major app stores.”
This is Apple’s second antitrust investigation in two days, a day after Italy announced that it will investigate the fairness of Apple’s iCloud terms and conditions in a press release. ACCC invited consumers and developers to share their experience of using and working with the apps marketplaces and asked both marketplaces owners to cooperate related to how they use and share data.
Google accepted the request for its cooperation and said the company would participate with the ACCC as it has done since the release of the inquiry. According to The Guardian, a company spokesman said,
In the interest of transparency, we’ve been open to dozens of meetings on request and provided thousands of documents to assist in the process.
However, Apple did not respond or comment regarding the matter.
One of the highlights of this inquiry is the growing tension over app store policies in many countries about Apple’s payment terms. The app developers and publishers have been calling out the issue for some time now of 30% and 15% fee charged by Apple and Google respectively. However, it came under the limelight last month after game developer Epic Games who created the popular game ‘Fortnite’ implemented a feature to let iPhone users make direct in-app purchases instead of Apple’s in-app purchases. This resulted in a ban on Fortnite game on both app stores and developers filing an anti-trust lawsuit against Apple and Google.
JUST IN: Apple doubles down in its legal battle with Fortnite creator Epic Games, filing a response and counterclaims alleging that the gaming company breached its contract, and seeking an unspecified amount in damages. https://t.co/QZotAJlWMd pic.twitter.com/wzll3QZu3v
— CNBC (@CNBC) September 8, 2020
ACCC deputy chairwoman Delia Rickard said
Apps have become essential tools for daily living for many Australian consumers, a trend that is likely to have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apps are, in turn, increasingly important for businesses as they promote, grow and run their enterprises.
We want to know more about the market for mobile apps in Australia, including how transparent and effective the market is, for consumers as well as those operating in the market. We will also focus on the extent of competition between the major online app stores, and how they compete for app sales with other app providers.
The planned consumer survey on app purchases and use is a part of its ongoing 5-year digital platforms inquiry. Submissions of consumers and developers to the inquiry close on 2 October 2020. The final report will be handed down in March 2021.
This comes as the ACCC is nearing to finalize the mandatory code that would make Australia the first country to make Google and Facebook pay news media companies for using their content. However, Google launched a public campaign against the code and Facebook threatened to withdraw news from the feeds. It would be interesting to see how things unfold for the tech giants.
- Neha Mehta
- Neha started her journey as a financial professional but soon realized her passion for writing and is now living her dreams as a content writer. Her goal is to enlighten the audience on various topics through her writing and in-depth research. She is geeky and friendly. When not busy writing, she is spending time with her little one or travelling.
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