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Australia is now on its way to addressing anti-competitive behaviors in digital platforms in its market. With this, tech giants might soon face significant changes in their app sideloading and in-app purchase commission policies. The country’s Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is now eyeing Apple and Google, which dominate the smartphone mobile app industry with their own platforms.

“If our country doesn’t take the step to empower this so that this obligation is there, it won’t be offered,” said ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb.

The move will be a part of the push for a mandatory code of conduct for digital platforms. The watchdog consulted the Australian government in December and recommended a code that will deter anti-competitive behavior on the platforms owned by the giants. These include limitations of allowing customers to switch to their preferred service and the platforms heavily favoring their own services and products over competitors. The release of the draft legislation is still unknown, but the government is reportedly considering its response to the recommendations.”

Epic Games, which is in the middle of a lawsuit battle against Apple due to in-app payment options, said introducing alternatives will aid in the prevention of anti-competitive acts. “Apple and Google’s digital platforms services face few, if any, competitive constraints in mobile app distribution. Consequently, mobile app developers have few, if any, viable alternatives for app distribution,” Epic said. “This enables Apple and Google to unilaterally impose ‘take it or leave it’ fees and terms as a condition of mobile app distribution.”

The Guardian noted that Epic is still legally fighting Apple over the ban in Australia and the US, with the case not due to be heard in the former until 2024. Nonetheless, the report added that “it is likely the federal government will seek to bring in the new rules before then,” signifying the approaching implementation of changes in digital platforms in the Australian market.

Aside from Australia, other countries are also pushing the same changes over the past months. The Digital Markets Act is already being implemented in the EU, forcing companies with gatekeeper status (like Apple) to welcome other platforms into the competition. This includes app sideloading, which the company seems to be already working on. Japan also recently drafted regulations, pushing Apple and Google to allow iOS and Android users to download third-party apps outside their platforms. The regulations also aim to stop companies from favoring their own system’s services and payment platforms and should also allow customers to pay for in-app purchases via third-party platforms.


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