A new Biden administration report describes Apple and Google as “gatekeepers” of mobile app stores and suggests legislation is needed to spur competition and give app makers and consumers more choices, reports AXIOS.
The White House is pushing for tech antitrust action in the new Congress, with a new Department of Commerce report laying out what it sees as a harmful app store environment for both consumers and app makers, the article adds. Here are some key points from the report by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration:
- Consumers largely can’t get apps outside of the app store model, controlled by Apple and Google. This means innovators have very limited avenues for reaching consumers.
- Apple and Google create hurdles for developers to compete for consumers by imposing technical limits, such as restricting how apps can function or requiring developers to go through slow and opaque review processes.
“While the current app store policies do offer some benefits to consumers, including the potential for tighter security controls, the report found that the costs far outweigh the benefits and that privacy and security protections can still be achieved in a more competitive environment,” says the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
The report recommends several changes to improve the app ecosystem for users, including:
- Consumers should have more control over their devices. They should be able to choose their own apps as defaults, use alternative mobile app stores, and delete or hide pre-installed apps.
- App store operators should not be able to “self-preference” their apps in an anticompetitive manner. Operators should not be able to favor their own apps in how they appear in search results or discriminate against other apps that are similar to their own.
- Operators should lift restrictions on alternative ways for consumers to download and install apps. While still preserving appropriate latitude for privacy and security safeguards, legislative and regulatory measures should prohibit restrictions on sideloading, alternative app stores and web apps.
- Addressing limits on in-app purchasing options. This can be done by banning requirements that developers use the app store operators’ in-app payment system.