White House calls Apple and Google ‘harmful’ in bid to cut app store fees
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The National Telecommunications and Information Administration wants Apple and Google to be forced to have third-party app stores, saying that as-is, the model inflates prices and reduces innovation.
As Apple prepares to raise App Store prices outside the US, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)says that Apple and Google’s business model “is harmful to consumers and developers.”
Following an investigation, then NTIA says it has found that the current “mobile app store model has provided a range of benefits to both app developers and users, but has also created conditions of competition that are suboptimal.”
“The policies that Apple and Google have in place… have created unnecessary barriers and costs for app developers,” says the NTIA’s full report, “ranging from fees for access to functional restrictions that favor some apps over others.”
The Executive Branch claims that “in some areas, such as in-app payments, it is unclear how the current system benefits anyone other than Apple and Google.”
It argues that “given the growing importance of this ecosystem to our economy,” and also to the people of the United States, Congress should “pursue measures… to open the ecosystem to greater competition.”
Google already allows side-loading of apps from alternative sources. Apple has a process to do this in a limited fashion through Xcode, but Apple has protested against wider use in alternative app stores.
The NTIA acknowledges Apple’s position, but points out that others disagree.
“While Apple and Google provide reasons why some measures might be in place, such as the benefits to users in increased security and privacy protections, and to developers in terms of access to markets and development tools,” it says, “many commenters challenge the technical necessities of these choices and question whether other models could provide similar if not greater benefit.”
The new report comes after President Biden’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, calling for more bipartisan efforts against Big Tech firms and their use of users’ personal data.