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Japan Pursues Antitrust Law Targeting Apple App Store Fees and Restrictions

Japan aims introducing legislation next year compelling Apple App Store commissions and constraints – the latest global adversarial maneuver challenging the iPhone maker’s entrenched mobile marketplace dominance.

Modeled after the landmark EU Digital Markets Act passed summer 2022, this proposed Japanese regulation similarly addresses perceived innovation-stifling app economy concentration of power.

Japan FTC Investigation Findings

Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) escalated actions against Apple based on a 2021 investigation concluding the App Store exerted disproportionate influence over regional software markets.

Specifically, the FTC deemed Apple App Store practices limited competition thanks chiefly to:

  • Excessive commissions up to 30% on in-app purchases
  • Banning alternative payment systems within apps
  • Prohibiting app sideloading outside Apple’s infrastructure
  • Self-preferencing first-party apps over third-parties

Japanese regulators now view legislation compelling amended terms as necessary neutering Apple’s harmful monopoly-like authority.

What Would The Law Require?

While legislation drafts remain undisclosed publicly, the expected Japanese act mirrors EU app store reforms requiring Apple:

  • Allow apps enabling alternative in-app payment systems
  • Reduce and cap default App Store commissions
  • Open iOS for app distribution beyond the App Store
  • Increase App Store transparency and reporting

Collectively, these concessions intend fostering greater competition benefiting developers and ultimately consumers via more choice, innovation and fair pricing.

Global Regulatory Pressure Mounting

Japan’s actions pile atop similarly aggressive legal App Store reform spearheaded by the EU, South Korea, Netherlands and United States presently.

These coordinated global regulators signal eroding tolerance for perceived Apple market manipulation against app makers dependent retailing through its dominant channel.

Epic Games Lawsuit Reverberations

Many also view regional legislation as partial byproducts of Epic Games’ high-profile 2020 lawsuit accusing Apple unlawful monopoly practices harming developers and users.

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That case awaiting final US appeals rulings cemented intensified regulatory scrutiny now compelling policy action worldwide.

So win, lose or settle, Epic appears victorious instigating game-changing oversight on Apple likely reshaping app commerce permanently.

Apple Fires Back Against Accusations

For its part, Apple decries accusations of antitrust violations or deleterious platforms policies.

The company argues its walled-garden iOS ecosystem provides consumers “the safest, most secure and most trusted place to download apps” unlike comparatively higher-risk Android devices.

And Apple insists its App Store commissions remain reasonable within industry norms while funding immense R&D investments benefiting developers foremost.

Compliance Costs and Security Impacts?

Less discussed publicly are worries compulsory iOS app economy liberalization incurs meaningful financial and engineering costs degrading user experiences and security:

  • Diversion resources address compliance burdens
  • Enable sideloading risks increasing device vulnerabilities
  • Offset lost commissions currently funding app environment advancements

Whether such considerations outweigh developer community calls eliminating perceived gatekeeper abuses remains debatable awaiting final rulings.

What Comes Next?

Japan’s legislature expects voting early 2024 on App Store antitrust reforms should the proposal pass initial debates.

Though Apple can likely delay aspects through legal actions locally, expanding global consensus regulation demands adjusting status quo operations sooner than later.

How Apple navigates this new antitrust reality in the months ahead promises immense mobile industry ripples and consumer impacts for decades.

 

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