Bipartisan bill targets Apple and Google’s anticompetitive app store policies

The news: Senators introduced a bill that targets the power dominant tech firms have over the app store market. If passed, the bill would require Apple and Google to allow third-party app stores and the sideloading of apps.

How it works: The Open App Markets Act, introduced by Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar and Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn, targets how companies operate app stores with more than 50 million users. The bill is the latest in an expansive series of legislation aimed at curbing monopolistic and anticompetitive practices among Big Tech companies.

The bipartisan bill would ban app stores from forcing developers to use the store’s payment systems. Apple takes a standard 30% commission as the only app delivery option for iPhones and iPads, and Google recently lowered its commission from 30% to 15%.

Why this matters: Some developers think rules of this scale are long overdue:

  • The Coalition for App Fairness, which counts Epic Games as a member, said, “The bipartisan Open App Markets Act is a step towards holding big tech companies accountable for practices that stifle competition for developers in the U.S. and around the world.”
  • An Apple spokesperson told The Verge that the company has “always put our users at the center of everything we do, and the App Store is the cornerstone of our work to connect developers and customers in a way that is safe and trustworthy,” noting that the App Store supports 2.1 million jobs across all 50 states.
  • Last year, consumers spent $72.3 billion in the Apple App Store, and Google Play brought in $38.8 billion in gross revenues, per Sensor Tower. The bill would let more of those funds flow straight to developers without Apple or Google taking a cut.

What’s next: Apple and Google are expected to lobby and fight against the bill, which threatens absolute control of a key profit center. The Open App Markets Act could also inspire stricter global app store regulations in other markets.