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Australian Watchdog Group Goes After Apple Over Preinstalled Apps

Australian Watchdog Group Goes After Apple Over Preinstalled Apps

An Australian consumer watchdog has warned both Apple and Google that it wants consumers to have more choice when it comes to preinstalled apps on iOS and Android devices (via ZDNet).

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants Apple and Google to give users more control over the default apps in their respective mobile operating systems.

“There is a need for consumers to have more choice through an ability to change any preinstalled default app on their device that is not a core phone feature,” the ACC said. “This would provide consumers with more control to choose the app that best meets their needs, and promote more robust competition in downstream markets for apps.”

While Apple already allows iOS users to opt to use third-party web browsing and mail apps in place of its default Safari browser and native Mail app, The ACCC wants them to offer that same level of flexibility for all pre-installed apps.

The group wants Apple and Google to use “voice screens” that will allow users to select between first-party and third-party alternatives. This would work much like the prompt that Russian iOS users see when initially configuring their device, where they select apps from a list of government-approved software.

Other ACCC proposals include developers being allowed to inform users of alternative payment options, as well as a means of preventing Apple and Google from using information collected about third-party apps to give an advantage to their own competing apps.

The 165-page interim report says Apple and Google hold a dominant position as app distributors which could be exploited by preferencing their own apps and payment platforms over third-party alternatives.

“Apple and Google’s dominance in mobile OS, combined with the control exerted over the app marketplaces permitted into their mobile ecosystems, means that theĀ App StoreĀ and the Play Store control the key gateways through which app developers can access consumers on mobile devices,” says the report.

Outside of China, Android OS and Apple’s iOS account for nearly 100% of the market for mobile operating systems (Google has 73% of the market, while Apple holds 27% of the market). However, in Australia, the split is close to 50/50.