Google and Apple App Stores Rebuked in Australia

May 18, 2021

In a conclusion that should surprise no one, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has found, “Dominance of Apple and Google’s App Stores Impacting Competition and Consumers.” The commission is in the midst of a five-year inquiry into the state of Australia’s digital-platform services market. Its second interim report suggests ways to reduce the outsized market power of both Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. The media release states:

“The ACCC has put forward a series of potential measures in response to its findings, including that consumers be able to rate and review all apps, that consumers have the ability to change any pre-installed default app on their device, that app developers be allowed to provide consumers with information about alternative payment options and that information collected by Apple and Google in their capacity as app marketplace operators be ring-fenced from their other operations. ‘We have identified a number of areas where action is required and have put forward potential measures to address areas of particular concern. There is a window of opportunity for Apple and Google themselves to take steps to improve outcomes for app developers and consumers by adopting the potential measures we have identified,’ [ACCC Chair Rod] Sims said. The ACCC will revisit the issues raised in this report during the course of the five-year Digital Platform Services Inquiry and will take into account steps by Apple and Google to address the concerns identified.”

It is nice of the commission to give the tech firms a chance to comply with these suggestions, but will they? Sims and his team are not holding their breath—the commission is examining laws and proposals in other countries as it prepares to impose regulation should it be needed. Its third interim report is due on September 30.

Will Google hire the chaos monkey and ship him down under now that the Apple orchard acted with extreme prejudice?

Cynthia Murrell, May 18, 2021

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