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Japan wants to expose Apple and Google and their operating systems to competition. A Japanese government panel prepared a set of regulations explaining the need to allow iOS and Android users to download third-party apps aside from the two companies’ online stores.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno headed the drafting of the regulations at the government’s headquarters for digital market competition. The Japan Times, meanwhile, noted that relevant legislation will be submitted to the ordinary session of parliament in 2024.

According to the Japanese government, the idea behind the move is to stir competition, which could soon lead to app price drops. It adds that it will do this by setting regulations that will guide the companies from what they should not do, ensuring they will stop favoring their own system’s services and payment platforms. Nonetheless, the Japanese government’s regulation also wants to ensure the safety of the users despite allowing them to get their apps from other places.

In the current app-downloading process in iOS and Android, Google is less strict compared to Apple. To note, while lots of Android users patronize the Play Store, there is an option for them to install apps outside the place. However, it is a different case for Apple’s customers using its devices, such as iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

In terms of payments, on the other hand, Google and Apple only allow users to pay using their payment platforms and charge app providers 30% as commission. This is one of the most common concerns among app developers, pushing them to list their creations in the App Store or Play Store, which benefits Google and Apple.

The Japanese government’s plan will change these things both for Apple and Google in the future. Moreover, by allowing their customers to pay via third-party platforms, the regulation will affect Apple’s and Google’s businesses.

Interestingly, the regulation also taps other competition concerns within the two companies’ platforms. This includes the pre-installed apps on Apple’s and Google’s operating systems and the companies’ actions promoting the use of their own services in their search engines. For the former, the government wants the two giants to allow their customers to delete these apps easily.

The Japanese government’s recently drafted regulations are not the first to address the issues mentioned above. Even other private companies are expressing concerns over the companies’ actions to pre-install their apps in their OS. For instance, Mozilla claimed such action affects the competition, causing it to lose against bigger OS-owner companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft. The European Union also wants Apple to allow its customers to sideload third-party apps from other places. Surprisingly, there are indications the company is already exploring this, with Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, saying the company is now “working with the EU” regarding safety compliance.


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