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Japan Looks to Curb Apple and Google App Dominance

Apple and Google App Store on smartphone

Add Japan to the list of countries trying to regulate Apple and Google’s app-store dominance.

The country’s government is preparing regulations that would make tech giants such as these permit outside app stores and payment systems into their operating systems, Nikkei reported Thursday (Dec. 29).

According to the report, legislation scheduled to be introduced next year would bar platform operators from keeping users inside their ecosystems and shutting out their rivals. This legislation would focus on app stores and payments, search, browsers and operating systems.

The law would allow the Japan Fair Trade Commission to impose fines for violations, a number that could amount to about 6% of revenue earned from the problematic activities, based on current antitrust law, the report said.

News of the potential legislation comes as Apple and Google are both dealing with antitrust cases in other countries.

For example, Google announced earlier this month it was paying $700 million to settle a case involving its Play store, ending a 2020 suit by the U.S. government and several states.

“App and game developers will be able to implement an alternative billing option alongside Google Play’s billing system for their U.S. users who can then choose which option to use when making in-app purchases,” Google said at the time. “We have been piloting user choice billing in the U.S. for over a year and will now expand this option further.”

The plaintiffs had alleged that Google abused its dominant position in the online search space and hindered competition via its deals with wireless and smartphone companies, making the tech giant the default search option.

The settlement announcement came soon after a federal jury in California found that Google’s Play store held a monopoly in the Android app distribution and payments space.

Meanwhile, this month also brought reports that Apple had offered to let competitors access its tap-to-pay mobile wallet system, a move that could mean the end of a European Union antitrust case against the company and help it avoid a steep fine.

The EU last year accused Apple of blocking competitors’ access to near-field communication (NFC), the technology that powers tap-to-pay systems, thus making it more difficult for these companies to put out competing services on Apple devices.