US agency calls Apple, Google App Stores ‘harmful’

Apple appears to have been given yet another set of reasons to expand its legal team as the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) calls for antitrust action to force Apple and Google to make big changes to their mobile app store business models.

What’s the problem?

NTIA is the principal advisor on telecommunications and Internet policy to the Biden administration. It argues that the way things are run at present may be “harmful,” arguing that Google’s and Apple’s “gatekeeper” positions may harm consumers by raising prices and reducing innovation.

Among a raft of criticisms, the agency argues that some restrictions favor some apps over others. “In some areas, such as in-app payments, it is unclear how the current system benefits anyone other than Apple and Google,” NTIA says.

While it does concede the existing status quo has provided a range of benefits to app developers and users, the regulators still want to force both ecosystems to open up to greater competition.

The criticism does at least pay some lip service to Apple’s strong arguments concerning security and privacy and how its stores provide both, but on the strength of 150 conversations seems to think those should become a “feature” (see below).

It’s about ‘fairness’

Following President Biden’s Wall Street Journal piece in which the president called for a bipartisan approach to reeling in the Big Tech firms and how they use personal data, this is the icing on the cake of criticism from regulators worldwide concerning both companies’ business practices.