Forward movement on the app store “restrictions”

App-Store Bill Targeting Apple, Google Is Approved by Senate Panel – WSJ

The bill seeks to bar the app-store owners from forcing developers to use the owners’ in-app payment systems. The owners also couldn’t prevent apps from telling consumers about other payment options. It also would ban app-store owners from “unreasonably” favoring their own apps in search results, and from using app developers’ nonpublic business information to compete with them.

I don’t understand much of the legislative process in the US. However, to a lay reader, it appears this is a positive development. It will curtail their monopolistic tendencies and control of information. It will be difficult to prove in the court that app store owners favour default applications, and most users don’t care about changing from default options. If it works, it just works. It is akin to a super-market placement of products. The ones that are visible are “favoured”. Therefore, there is enough jousting to present themselves as “default”. While the corollary is simplistic, its ramifications are complex.

The bill has support from a number of technology companies who would stand to see a boost in revenue if the bill became law. Twenty tech CEOs, including the Spotify Technology SA CEO Daniel Elk and Epic Games Inc. CEO Tim Sweeney, signed a letter to the Senate panel this week saying the bill would help improve competition.

More competition is justified in the name of transparency. App store dynamics and politics is full of drama. If the developers had supported BlackBerry 10 as the “preferred” store, we might have seen a little more diversity. I interacted with a few, and I was appalled to see that they based their decisions on amount of data they could suck out and the inducements offered by “rival stores”. Windows phone had to die a slow death for the same reason, even though Microsoft threw an immense amount of spaghetti at the wall to see what stuck. Nothing did.

The same Senate panel last month advanced another bill forbidding the largest tech platforms from favoring their own products and services over those of competitors. The vote on that bill was 16-6, with several senators who voted “yes” raising concerns they wanted to see addressed before a final vote.

I’ll wait. Its impact on healthcare remains to be seen.

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