April 21, 2021
Do App Stores Need Antitrust Intervention?
Some policymakers claim that Google and Apple’s control of their apps stores creates an anticompetitive dynamic that harms consumers and developers. In light of today’s Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on this issue, AAF’s Director of Technology and Innovation Policy Jennifer Huddleston and Technology and Innovation Policy Analyst Juan Londoño examine whether there is evidence of anticompetitive behavior in the app store market.
Their central points:
- The market for apps extends well beyond the app stores of Google and Apple, and any definition of the relevant market should reflect the consumer and developer experience;
- Arguments that app stores hurt consumers and developers, either by charging exorbitant fees or by restricting downloads to only those apps found in the store, fail to demonstrate any true harm, as the fees are in line with industry standards and restrictions on external downloads may be a choice to promote security; and
- State-level regulations of app stores have the potential to create a patchwork of regulations that disrupts the flow of services across state lines or results in restrictive de facto national regulations.