Australia calls for more transparency from Apple and Google over app store practices
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) released a report on Wednesday highlighting what it claims are significant issues with how Apple and Google operate its app stores. In particular, the consumer watchdog is deeply concerned by the amount of control these companies exert over third parties that wish to offer its apps in these app stores, and the advantages its own apps have. The ACCC said that because of the “significant market power” Apple and Google wield over third parties, measures are needed to make changes.
“Apple and Google’s stores are the gateways between consumers and app developers, and it’s true that they provide considerable benefits to both groups,” the ACCC said. “But there are significant issues with how this market is operating.”
The ACCC said it’s concerned over Apple and Google potentially promoting its apps over the competition, and the strict terms that are set for competitors just to be accepted into these app stores. In an effort to address this, the ACCC is calling on both companies to be more transparent, specifically about how third-party apps are made discoverable to consumers.
Another concern focuses on how Apple and Google force developers to use its own payment systems for any in-app purchases — something that developers, including Epic Games, has also taken issue with. Additionally, the ACCC has said that consumers should have the ability to change or remove any pre-installed or default apps. If Apple and Google don’t make changes, they may be forced to comply.
“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.”
In a statement to Gizmodo, Apple said it welcomed the opportunity to discuss its policies with the ACCC.