Another country takes the first step toward forcing app store changes on Apple and Google

Another country takes the first step toward forcing app store changes on Apple and Google
The Digital Markets Act (DMA) in Europe is forcing Apple to make some changes to the iPhone and some will be implemented this year. For example, iOS 17 will give iPhone users the ability to sideload apps. That means that apps can be installed from third-party app storefronts even though Apple won't be able to guarantee the security of these apps. However, this feature, according to a report earlier this year from Bloomberg, will be limited to the 27 EU member countries. Android users already have the ability to sideload apps.

According to the Japan Times (via AppleInsider), Japan could be the next country to force Apple to open up its "walled garden." The Japanese government has written out a set of regulations that it would like Apple and Google to follow. These rules would demand that both companies allow their respective users to sideload apps (which, as we already pointed out, is available to Android users). The Japanese government hopes that this would lead to a drop in app prices and jump-start competition.

The report notes that 97% of Android users download apps from the Google Play Store even though they are not forced to do so. On the other hand, Apple currently demands that iPhone users stick to one source for their apps, the Apple App Store.

Besides demanding that Apple allow sideloading on the iPhone in their country, Japanese regulators also want both companies to allow users to make in-app payments through third-party platforms. Currently, Apple and Google both demand that these transactions go through their own in-app payment platforms which allows the two tech giants to take as much as a 30% cut.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has always noted that by preventing sideloading on the iPhone, the latter is more secure since Apple has to approve all apps that are downloaded on the device. But to give credit where credit is due, the Japanese regulations will demand that iPhone and Android users be allowed to download apps from third-party app stores but only if those app stores have enough privacy and security protection.

The Japanese regulators would also like to see iPhone and Android users be able to easily delete some pre-installed apps that the manufacturers load on their own devices. And they want Apple and Google to stop giving preferential treatment to their own services when it comes to search results. This probably includes search results for apps in the App Store since Apple currently does not have a search engine.

The regulations were written up at the Japanese government's headquarters for digital market competition. The government is expected to submit related legislation during 2024's ordinary session of parliament.

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