Over the years, Apple and Google have faced significant pushback for various issues. Currently, lawsuits and complaints are mounting against them in Latin America, Europe, and Asia due to the rules and fees related to their app stores.
Let’s take a look.
The Situation in Mexico
Currently, both Apple and Google are facing a probe from the Mexican government about alleged anti-competitive practices.
The complaint was brought to Mexico’s telecommunications regulator IFT by Mony de Swaan Addati.
De Swaan Addati was the former head of Mexico’s telecommunications federation that was replaced by the IFT.
According to his complaint, Apple and Google work to completely crush competition with their app store fees. He says they are functional monopolies that abuse their power by forcing all app developers to use their internal payment systems.
While a wave of lawsuits and complaints globally have led to Google and Apple making some changes and lowering fees, many critics say that they have not done enough.
Problems in the EU
The European Commission has recently broadened a probe into Google advertising technology. This probe began in Portugal before becoming part of an existing European Commission investigation into the same issue.
On top of this, Apple and Google are also facing a class action lawsuit in Portugal. This lawsuit alleges that Apple and Google’s 30% commission rates are anti-competitive and excessive.
While the EU began its Google probe in the summer of 2021, Portugal began its investigation in May of 2022 after a complaint.
The Accusations of the European Commission
The AdC says that its probe concentrates on the market for publisher ad servers as well as platforms that enable publishers to manage their advertising space. According to Silicon:
The regulator said there were indications Google had used “information not accessible by competitors” related to online ad auctions in order to “change the outcome of those auctions in Google’s favour”.
They also accuse Google of intentionally limiting the development of competing ad auction technologies to maintain the upper hand.
Google is also facing scrutiny for its app store fees in the EU, which is a worldwide issue. It faced similar action from US states in the summer of 2021.
South Korea Leads the Way
The country of South Korea has been leading the fight against Apple and Google globally, being the first country to institute a law barring dominant app store operators from forcing app developers to use their payment systems.
Over the past year or so, this has created a tense back and forth between the tech companies and the South Korean government.
According to Reuters:
Apple had told the South Korean government that it was already complying and did not need to change its app store policy. Google said it planned to allow third-party payment systems in South Korea, but will only reduce its service charge to developers by 4 percentage points when users choose an alternative billing system.
However, initially South Korean lawmakers were not satisfied with their efforts, and this has remained constant over the last year. According to South Korean lawmaker Jo Seoung-lae:
“Frankly, we are not satisfied… Apple’s claim that it’s already complying is nonsensical, “Excessive fees take away developers’ chances for innovation … parliament is to be closely informed as the government drafts detailed regulations to make sure there is accountability.”
South Korea Warned Against Sanctions of Apple and Google
Of course, as South Korea created laws for Apple and Google, and says they are not following them, it makes sense that the government would retaliate.
According to a US economist, this might cause some problems.
Michael Mandel, vice president and chief economist of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), told the Korea Times:
“The danger is that sanctions against Apple and Google could make it easier for malware providers, which would be bad for Korean users.”
This warning stands in complete opposition to that of US and Korean mobile content providers. They have enthusiastically urged the South Korean government to crack down on Apple and Google.
In fact, The Coalition for App Fairness, a U.S. nonprofit organization comprised of app developers, said in a letter last month that it supports Korean lawmakers fully. Members of the coalition include Matchgroup of Tinder fame and Epic Games of Fortnite fame.
However, according to Mandel:
“Both companies devote huge technological resources to scanning apps uploaded to their official stores for malware. Regulators who underestimate security and privacy concerns run the risk of undercutting consumer trust in the mobile app ecosystems and making it more difficult to use apps for key functions such as banking and health.”
Final Thoughts on the Global Action Against Google and Apple
Ultimately, this kind of action against Apple and Google is nothing new. Countries worldwide have been trying for years to make headway with these tech giants.
In the past year or so, specifically, the App Store’s fight with Fortnite creator Epic Games made headlines globally. Many have asked what the results of all of these cases will yield.
So far, there has been action in the US, UK, Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Australia.
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