Apple and Google under antitrust control in Japan for mobile operating system
TOKYO – The Japanese Fair Trade Commission will examine whether Apple and Google are leveraging their dominance in the smartphone operating system market to eliminate competition and significantly limit options for consumers.
The study will include interviews and surveys of operating system operators, application developers and smartphone users, commission secretary-general Shuichi Sugahisa told reporters on Wednesday. The initiative will explore market conditions not only for smartphones, but also for smartwatches and other wearable devices.
The antitrust watchdog will write a report outlining the structure of the operating systems market and why the competition has remained static. The commission will work with the central government Digital Market Competition Council, which is moving forward with its own market investigation.
Practices deemed to be anti-competitive will be detailed in the report, as well as possible violations of Japanese law against monopolies.
In February, the government implemented the law on improving the transparency and fairness of digital platforms. If the authorities decide that the law applies to the operating systems market, operating system operators will be asked to submit regular transaction reports to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
In Japan, Apple’s iOS has a nearly 70% share of smartphone operating systems, while Android’s share stands at 30%. Any application developer, whether they specialize in music, streaming videos, e-books, or mobile games, must match the software to the specifications of the operating systems if they want to appear on smartphones.
Google has been accused of asking device makers to include its search app as a condition for installing Android. Consumers who use these devices cannot use other search applications.
The Fair Trade Commission will verify whether Apple and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, are using their market supremacy to corner apps and put consumers at a disadvantage.
Competition agencies around the world are working to remove the restrictions tech giants place on consumers and developers.
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission submitted a report to Congress in May that shows how mobile device makers are using parts and adhesives that are not available to consumers and third-party operators, which goes to the ‘against the legislation on the right to reparation. The FTC launched an antitrust investigation in July.
The US Department of Justice filed an antitrust action against Google last October, citing anti-competitive practices in the search engine market. According to the lawsuit, Google paid Apple up to $ 12 billion a year in exchange for being the default search engine on the Safari browser. The Justice Department also criticizes Google for prioritizing its own apps in the Android operating system.
The European Union has already punished Google for freezing its rivals. In 2018, the European Commission fined the company 4.3 billion euros ($ 5 billion) for forcing device makers to preinstall the Android operating system with Google apps.
The Japanese Fair Trade Commission has been scrutinizing the digital sector since 2019. An investigation into the cloud services market was launched in April. The latest survey will be the fourth taken in this initiative after the e-commerce market and app stores, digital advertising and cloud services.