Japan Emulates Europe: Pushing for Apple’s App Store Reform

December 28, 2023 – In the wake of protracted legal battles, Apple has finally conceded defeat in Europe, announcing last month its intention to make changes to the App Store by March 2024, allowing third-party app stores to operate in the European market. This decision has left users in many other countries and regions envious, prompting Japan to follow suit in a bid to compel Apple to open up to side-loading of apps.

According to local media reports, Japan is in the process of preparing antitrust legislation to enforce Apple’s openness. The focus of the plan by Japan’s Fair Trade Commission is to curb Apple and Google’s dominance in the realms of app stores, payments, search, browsers, and operating systems. This legislation aims to bring about substantial changes in Apple’s current practices, including obliging the company to allow users the option of alternative app stores and permitting side-loading on iPhones and iPads within Japan. The proposed legislation also seeks to impose fines for violations, with fines estimated to be around 6% of the revenue generated from “problematic activities.” The Fair Trade Commission’s legislative efforts are currently underway, with plans for completion in the spring.

This legislation bears a striking resemblance to the European Union’s “Digital Markets Act,” which Apple vehemently opposed. In reports submitted by Apple, the company expressed concerns that a reduction in the commissions earned from the App Store could have a significant adverse impact on its business, operational performance, and financial status. After all, the installation of apps through third-party app stores not only raises security concerns but also affects Apple’s revenue stream.

Japan’s move to enforce openness in the app ecosystem reflects a global trend toward greater competition and user choice, mirroring the developments seen in the European market. As the legislative process unfolds, it remains to be seen how Apple and other tech giants will adapt to these changing regulations in different parts of the world.

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