Monday, July 22, 2024

Google’s app store dominance threatened by new Senate bill



Another day, another complaint about Google’s app store.

What you need to know

  • U.S. senators have proposed a new bill that targets Google and Apple’s app stores.
  • The senators behind the bill assert that Google and Apple stifle competition by maintaining tight control over their app stores and app distribution.
  • Google has been under increased scrutiny over its app store policies.

A new bill has just been introduced in the Senate, which targets the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

The Open Apps Market Act, spearheaded by Senators Richard Blumenthal, Marsha Blackburn, and Amy Klobuchar aims to address the tight hold that Apple and Google have over their app stores and app distributions

A joint press release asserts that Google and Apple “have gatekeeper control of the two dominant mobile operating systems and their app stores that allow them to exclusively dictate the terms of the app market, inhibiting competition and restricting consumer choice.”

The bill outlines several policies that could change how Google and Apple operate their respective app stores. One policy would directly challenge the Play Payments billing system that Google is requiring for app developers on the best Android phones. It states that a company “shall not require to use an In-App Payment System owned or controlled by the Covered Company….as a condition of being distributed on an App Store or accessible on an operating system.”

The bill requires operating systems to allow apps to be installed from outside the default app store, prohibits preferential treatment of apps from Google and Apple on their respective stores, and will make it so that users can hide or delete preinstalled apps.

The bill seeks to address several points of contention, especially in the midst of an ongoing battle between Epic and Google/Apple over app store fees and billing methods.

This also isn’t the first time that Google’s Play Store policies have been targeted. Two separate class-action lawsuits against the Play Store have recently been filed, citing “unlawful” charges and calling the 30% surcharge an “unearned tax” imposed without justification.

Google has not responded to a request for comment but has previously defended its policies. The company has maintained that Android “gives people more choice than any other mobile platform in deciding which apps and app stores they use” and that Google competes “vigorously and fairly for developers and consumers.”

Yet, amid the swell of legal action against the Play Store, Google recently granted app store developers leniency in adopting its billing system, allowing them to apply to extensions.

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