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ACCC investigate Apple and Google over the way they control what Apps you can install on your Phone

As part of its ongoing digital platform services inquiry, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is joining other international agencies to investigate Apple and Google over the way they control what Apps you can install on your Phone.

Apple’s App Store is a particular point of interest as unlike Android, which does allow you to install apps from elsewhere, the App Store is the only way for iPhone and iPad users to get apps. This means it’s also the only way for to developers to get their apps to consumers. They’re forced to give Apple 30 cents out of every dollar they make from purchases in the app. Google also charges a similar amount to app developers.

Apps have become essential tools for daily living for many Australian consumers. A trend that is likely to have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apps are, in turn, increasingly important for businesses as they promote, grow and run their enterprises. ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said. The consumer watchdog is “examining potential competition and consumer issues in this area”; with a particular focus on the fact the marketplaces are pre-installed on consumer devices.

How marketplaces determine what apps can go on its store and how those apps are ranked ahead or below one another is also under the microscope. For app developers and suppliers, gaining a spot in one of the major app stores can result in significant sales. Failing to gain access can be a major setback and a total block on app sales. We are keen to provide greater transparency on how this process works, Ms Rickard said.

A survey on the ACCC’s website asks for your thoughts, which you can provide anonymously. They are open for submissions until October 2.

Some of the questions include concerns about the amount of information users are given about apps before they download them. Also how those apps handle data, as well as around hidden costs in apps and misleading or scam apps.

The survey can be taken at https://consultation.accc.gov.au/communications-1/app-stores-consumer/