It just keeps piling up, and now the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has joined the fight against the dominant app stores offered by Apple and Google on their respective mobile platforms.
“App developers need fair and reasonable terms when dealing with app stores and better processes for the approval of apps to help address the consequences of Google and Apple’s power in the app market, the ACCC has found,” the governmental organization announced. “Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store have significant market power in the distribution of mobile apps in Australia, and measures are needed to address this.”
The argument here will be familiar to anyone who has been following the regulatory action being taken against Apple and Google around the world: Australia has found that these two firms act as gatekeepers to their respective dominant platforms and that their anti-competitive policies have harmed developers and consumers alike. The issues are many, but key among them is that Apple and Google both compete with third-party developers and give their own apps and services unfair advantages, especially in pricing.
“The ACCC is also concerned with restrictions imposed by Apple and Google which mean developers have no choice but to use Apple and Google’s own payment systems for any in-app purchases,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said. “Further while Apple and Google have made efforts to remove malicious apps from the app stores, we believe they could do more to prevent and remove apps that feature, for example, subscription traps and other scams.”
The ACCC says that Apple and Google now have a “window of opportunity” during which they can proactively fix the many problems with their mobile app stores. This is possible: In the wake of developer outcry over Apple’s unfair 30 percent vig, the consumer electronics giant last year finally dropped the fees to just 15 percent for most developers.