The Biden administration is taking aim at Apple and Google’s mobile app stores, representing perhaps one of the biggest challenge they have yet faced.
Apple and Google control the two largest mobile app ecosystems and have increasingly come under legal and regulatory pressure for their duopoly. Some countries have even begun to pass legislation requiring the two companies to allow third-party apps and stores.
In what could be one of the biggest challenges to that duopoly, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is calling for changes to make the mobile app landscape more competitive.
Mobile apps have become an essential tool for participation in much of daily life. Two companies – Apple and Google – act as gatekeepers over the apps that people and businesses rely on, NTIA found in its “Competition in the Mobile Application Ecosystem” report.
The companies’ policies have the potential to harm consumers by inflating prices and reducing innovation.
NTIA’s report and recommendations are part of the Biden administration’s push to promote innovation and competition, and to level the economic playing field. NTIA is the president’s principal advisor on telecommunications and Internet policy.
“From finding directions to chatting with loved ones, apps are a critical tool for consumers and an essential part of doing business online,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator. “It is more important than ever that the market for mobile apps remains competitive. NTIA’s recommendations will make the app ecosystem more fair and innovative for everyone.”
“This report identifies important ways we can promote competition and innovation in the app market, which will benefit consumers, startups, and small businesses,” said Bharat Ramamurti, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.
Despite talk of reigning in Big Tech and fostering more competition, the US has made little real progress. The NTIA’s report could be the first step toward major change in the mobile market.