Apple protests call for third-party app stores and lower platform fees in Japan

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Apple today hit back at a Japanese government report saying the company could be hit by new regulations to ensure fair competition in the smartphone operating system market, Japan time reports.

The Japanese government’s interim report expressed concern about Apple and Google’s control of the smartphone operating system market, particularly with regard to pre-installed browser apps, and warned that their policies could hurt app providers and businesses. He proposed the introduction of new rules to prohibit companies from limiting users’ ability to make decisions about how they want to use their devices, with the added benefit of boosting competition in the marketplace.

The report also challenged the 15-30% commission developers have to pay Apple for apps and in-app purchases, and the fact that they can only distribute through Apple’s App Store. As a result, it called on operating system vendors to allow users to use third-party app stores and companies to disclose full information about their systems.

The proposed changes aim to “achieve fair and equitable competition”, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno. Apple said in a statement “We respectfully disagree with a number of findings” in the Japanese government’s report, and that it faces “intense competition in all segments.” Apple added that it would continue to “engage constructively with the Japanese government.”

Rick VanMeter, Executive Director of the Coalition for App Fairness, commented:

With this interim report, Japan joins the growing chorus of regulators and policymakers warning Big Tech gatekeepers of anti-competitive practices. The report clearly indicates that both developers and consumers thrive when there is competition in the app ecosystem. We fully agree with these findings and look forward to working with Japanese regulators and policymakers as they work to strengthen innovation and enable a free and fair mobile app market.

The Japanese government would collect public opinions and hold further discussions before drafting a final report on the matter. Even more pervasive challenges to Apple’s platforms and services are underway in the European Union, where the proposed Digital Markets Act seeks to impose major changes to the ‌App Store‌, messages, FaceTime, third-party browsers, and Siri.

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