Oz competition commission to scrutinise app stores

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app store on phone

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has said that it will examine the extent of competition between Google Play Store and Apple App Stores, and whether more pricing transparency is needed in the mobile apps market in the country.

In a statement, the ACCC said they are “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”.

“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,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

The ACCC has also released an issues paper seeking views and feedback from app developers and suppliers. A final report is expected in March next year.

The work is part of a five-year ACCC inquiry which will produce reports every six months examining markets for the supply of digital platform services in Australia.

“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,” Rickard said. “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.”

While there are various app stores or marketplaces, app sales are dominated by the Apple App Store, for iOS, and the Google Play Store, for Android devices.

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“For app developers and suppliers, gaining a spot in one of the major app stores can result in significant sales, while failing to gain access can be a major setback. We are keen to provide greater transparency on how this process works,” Rickard elaborated.

Back in April, the Australian government had directed the ACCC to develop a mandatory code of conduct to address bargaining power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and platforms like Google and Facebook.

The draft code called ‘News Media Bargaining Code’ would allow news media businesses to bargain individually or collectively with Google and Facebook over payment for the inclusion of news on their services.

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