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Will Japan follow South Korea’s way of breaking Apple, Google app store monopolies?

Japan also reportedly wants Apple and Google to stop giving privileged treatment to their own apps in their digital spaces

Japan has reportedly joined the list of nations eyeing to break tech giants Apple and Google’s monopoly on the app stores on their respective mobile operating systems.

Recently, the Fumio Kishida government held its seventh ‘Digital Market Competition Conference’. The event’s main attraction was the publication of the research document called ‘Final Report on the Competitive Evaluation of Mobile Ecosystems’.

As per a report from ‘The Register’, the study stated that mobile ecosystems have become critical infrastructure. However, more options for consumers are currently required, apart from providing an equal and equitable competition environment in the market.

The report also mentioned that Apple and Google should allow third-party payment services to access their app stores so that developers can offer users more payment options, the study commented.

Japan also reportedly wants Apple and Google to stop giving privileged treatment to their own apps in their digital spaces, and make them easier to be removed from devices instead of giving them preference.

The report also stated that the reforms were intended to lower the price Japanese consumers pay for the Apple and Google apps, most likely by encouraging third-party app stores to charge lower fees than Apple’s 30% and Google’s variable rates. Both tech behemoths have so far claimed that the fees they charge cover the costs of their app stores and reasonable profits.

However, neither has any real competition and both make enormous profits, regulators believe there is almost certainly a margin to be cut, the study mentioned.

Japan’s neighbouring country South Korea’s National Assembly, in 2022, passed legislation prohibiting app store operating biggies from forcing developers to use their in-app payment systems, thus becoming the first country in the world to do so.

European Union, United States, India, Australia, and other nations are also trying such anti-monopoly measures against the tech giants. Google is already facing problems in Europe.

Epic Games is now planning to file a competition lawsuit against Google in the United Kingdom as part of the ongoing Fortnite-kicked-off-platforms saga, as per the reports.

The lawsuit will likely allege that Google, holder of “a dominant position in the Android app distribution market”, has unfairly restricted “competition from alternative app stores and other channels for the distribution of apps”, according to documents lodged with the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal.

The gaming platform has also filed a similar lawsuit in the US against Apple, which reportedly threw out Epic Games from its App Store over a spat on ‘Cult Game Fortnite’.

Also, the European Commission made a formal antitrust complaint against Google in the second week of June 2023, over Sundar Pichai-led firm’s ad business model. The regulator said that the tech giant had abused its dominant position in the digital advertising market.

The European Commission also batted for forcing Google to sell off parts of its business, if the company is found guilty of the charges.

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