The app store, or stores, seem to have become the focus of a growing battle between brands, tech companies and Governments and it looks as if it is going to get messy.
In Australia, already firing salvos at Facebook and Google, the Government is opening up a discussion with consumers and developers to find out whether there is sufficient transparency (honesty) around data usage and pricing. Responses can be made up until 2 October and a report will be available in March next year.
This, of course, comes on the back of the Australian Government trying to ‘level the playing field’ when it comes to content on Facebook and Google platforms.
Meanwhile, the ban on various Chinese apps in India is being gradually tightened and Tencent, who stands to lose an astonishing amount of business is seeking to engage with Indian officials to reverse the blocking of its app. The Indian Government has added another 118 apps to the blacklist in the last week and it is doubtful whether it will be open to overtures from a Chinese company, however large.
It is not just Governments that are causing trouble for the app store owners (see here for app usage during COVID-19). Recently Epic filled its war chest with the sole intention of going after Apple, who recently threw Epic out of its app store are now locked in a struggle over the size of its commissions, which companies such as Epic and Spotify say are far too high and stifling innovation for smaller developers.
Apple has now countersued on the basis that Epic is behaving like a spoilt child (or something like that).
Governments are already trying to prove that several companies are anti-competitive and behaving so – and it is clear that this is true – but they are big, big companies and are not about to give up without a fight.
The real question is whether Governments have enough teeth to make real changes and whether a company like Epic can gain enough momentum and support to prise apart the neo-monopoly that is the app store owners.
They will be helped in the struggle by the new nervousness among investors in big tech, some of whom are smelling a possible ‘dotcom’ bubble forming. But, given the stakes, the battle of the app store may be a lost cause anyway, even with Governments on side.