Australia’s consumer watchdog has flagged significant concerns about the Apple and Google Play app stores that could result in changes to the way consumers pay for purchases.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s second Digital Platform Services Inquiry interim report has raised alarms about Apple and Google’s gross market share of mobile apps in Australia.
The ACCC warned the two tech giants that if concerns were not addressed, tighter regulations would be imposed.
The watchdog is particularly worried that Google and Apple own the only two stores in which smartphone users can buy apps while having their own apps in those stores.
“Apple and Google (not) only run the app marketplaces, they also compete within them with their own apps,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
“They have the ability and incentive to promote their own apps over others, and they control the terms that their competitors must comply with to gain access to their stores.
“We believe (independent) app developers should have more information about how their apps are made discoverable to consumers.”
Among a series of recommendations, the ACCC wants app developers to have the option to provide consumers with information about alternative payment options.
“The ACCC is 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,” Mr Sims said.
Several other recommendations were put forward, including:
- Consumers should be able to rate and review all apps
- Consumers should have the ability to change any pre-installed default app on their device
- Information collected by Apple and Google in their capacity as app marketplace operators should be separate 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,” Mr Sims said.
“Regulation may be required if Apple and Google fail to take steps to address the concerns identified.”