The Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC) has given app developers the chance to comment on the way they interact with the marketplace platforms they use to make apps available, in preparation for release of a report on competition issues affecting app marketplaces.
The second report in the ACCC’s digital platform services inquiry series is due to be released in March 2021, addressing app marketplaces. This refers to companies supplying an app marketplace platform and associated services, such as the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. To support that report, in September the ACCC released an Issues Paper seeking the views of consumers and app developers, as well as businesses providing apps to customers and the app marketplaces themselves.
According to the Issues Paper, the key issues the report will seek to address include:
- Whether there are genuine alternatives to the major app marketplaces, and what barriers exist to an alternative provider of an app marketplace platform emerging;
- The impact of app marketplaces offering their own apps alongside third party apps, how third party apps compete with marketplaces’ own apps, services offered by app marketplaces to app developers, and whether app marketplaces leverage their access to data on consumer use of third party apps to improve their own apps;
- How app marketplaces approve third party apps for distribution, how third party apps are displayed and how rating systems, consumer data and in-app purchases are accessed and controlled by app marketplaces, developers or providers;
- The relationship between consumers and app marketplaces, including in relation to use of data, quality and cost information and complaints; and
- Trends in apps and app marketplaces, including how competition in apps is affected by mergers and acquisitions in the tech industry.
The Issues Paper, available here, expands on each of these issues and lists specific question for respondents, and in particular app developers and consumers, to consider in their response. There is also a fact sheet summarising particular issues and questions for app developers.
Responses to the Issues Paper were due by 2 October 2020.
HWL Ebsworth’s Technology team has extensive experience advising app developers and businesses providing apps to customers.
This article was written by Luke Dale, Partner and Nikki Macor Heath, Senior Associate.