Australian Watchdog to Examine Competition Between Apple, Google App Stores

The business practices of US tech giants have come under scrutiny globally but Australian regulators have been among the most aggressive.

Australia’s competition regulator on Tuesday said it would look into the extent of competition between the app stores of Apple and Google, and also examine whether more pricing transparency is needed in the country’s mobile apps market.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is “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,” Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said in a statement.

Regulators Down Under have been among the most aggressive in trying to rein in the reach of US tech giants, with Australia set to become the first country to make Facebook and Alphabet’s Google pay for news sourced from local providers.

The commission’s decision also comes amid Apple’s legal tussle with Epic Games, after the Fortnite creator implemented a feature to let iPhone users make in-app purchases directly, rather than using Apple’s in-app purchase system.

The iPhone maker had subsequently terminated Epic Games’ account on its App Store.

ACCC’s planned consumer survey on app purchases and use is part of a five-year inquiry, which will produce reports every six months, with a final report expected by March.
© Thomson Reuters 2020