Feds Punish Apple, Google for Abusing App-Store Power (But Mostly Apple)
According to the NTIA, Apple and Google are the app stores' gatekeepers, stifling innovation. But given the security dangers of a more open strategy, can Congress actually take action?
For those who have been following Feds Punish Apple and Google for a while, a recent report(Opens in a new window) from the Commerce Department is nothing new, but having the government detail a history of craven control-freakery is not exactly good PR for the corporations.
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The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) 48-page “Competition in the Mobile Application Ecosystem” report (Feds Punish Apple)) summarises a well-known list of issues with both iOS and Android, with Apple receiving so much additional criticism that the word “Apple” might as well be larger:
Outside of Google’s Play Store and almost impossible outside of Apple’s App Store (iOS prohibits direct app downloads from websites and third-party app stores), it is tough to distribute apps (Android lets you do those things, but only after disabling multiple security defaults).
By requiring developers to utilise their payment systems for in-app purchases, collecting up to 30% of each transaction, and forbidding developers from even directing customers to web payment choices, Apple and Google extort enormous rents from developers. (Apple relaxed this requirement for “reader” apps that show purchased digital content last year.)
Because app store review procedures are frequently unclear to developers, good apps may be delayed for unimportant reasons while scam apps are allowed to pass (Opens in a new window).
Preinstalling and defaulting their own programmes, like Apple and Google do, can further stifle competition.
By preventing third-party browsers from using several standard web capabilities and forcing them to operate on its WebKit framework, Apple has further stifled competition. This exposes rivals like Firefox for iOS to WebKit flaws until Apple fixes them (unstated in the report).
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