March 3, 2021
Does “Sideloading” Strengthen Competition on Mobile Devices?
Policymakers at both the federal and state level are scrutinizing Apple and Google for restrictions they have placed on users’ ability to access apps outside of app stores, a practice known as sideloading. Sideloading gives app stores more competition, proponents argue, and some policymakers are examining whether prohibitions on sideloading are anticompetitive behavior that requires a government response. In a new analysis, AAF’s Director of Technology and Innovation Policy Jennifer Huddleston and Technology Policy Analyst Juan Londoño examine these claims and consider the impact of policy remedies on competition.
While it is true that preventing sideloading can eliminate certain competitors in narrow circumstances, any policy that would overrule internal decisions ignores both the broader competitive market and the reasons that companies might choose to disallow sideloading. Such an approach would not promote competition, as it too narrowly perceives the market in which these app stores operate and the options available to consumers, particularly around security.