The Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), an industry body for India’s digital startups, has released a detailed landscape study of the app store policies of big tech companies today and their adverse effects on Indian developers and users. The report is titled Towards Regulating App Stores’ was prepared by ADIF and The Quantum Hub, a public policy consulting firm.
According to the ADIF study, “Both Apple and Google charge a hefty fee for the services that their app stores provide.” Antitrust regulators around the world have expressed concerns with the policies of the two dominant mobile app store owners. Apple is currently under investigation from antitrust regulators in the US, Europe, Japan, Australia and India, while Google is also facing intense scrutiny in the US, Europe and India, among countless other countries. In India, cases have been filed against Google and Apple with the Competition Commission of India (CCI), who is investigating those firms for abuse of market power.
“The monopolistic policies of the app stores and their abuse of market power are forcing unfavorable terms on developers, who are left with no choice but to comply.”ADIF Study, Towards Regulating App Stores’
According to the report, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android are the two dominant mobile operating systems, having a combined worldwide market share of 99.28 percent currently. In India specifically, Android dominates the market with a market share of 95.1 percent, while iOS only has 3.93 percent. The report goes on to explain that while users have alternative app stores for Android, “the volume of downloads through these channels pales in comparison with the downloads through the App Store and Google Play,” making them Defacto gatekeepers in the mobile app marketplace.
“The dominant position enjoyed by the gatekeepers of the app ecosystem can severely hurt competition and innovation in the market, while also adversely affecting the ecosystem in many ways.”Sijo Kuruvilla George, Executive Director, ADIF
To compound the issue of dominance and control, these mobile operating systems charge a commission on app in-app-purchases, otherwise known as IAPs. The commissions vary somewhat with Apple starting developers at 15 percent then going up to 30percent, Google similarly charges 15 percent, then up to 30 percent. Other app stores like the Microsoft Store charge 12 percent for games and 15 percent for apps with Epic Games charging 12 percent.
The report goes on to examine bundling of services, anti-steering provisions, search algorithm, self-preferencing and review processes which are all ways these platforms maintain their monopolies. The antitrust regulation walls are closing in on Appel and Google, both companies will not willingly hand over their market power unless it is ripped from their arms and the freedom to choose is given back to the people.