The Japanese government is in the early stages of drafting a proposal that would see Apple and Google forced to open up their respective platforms to allow third-party app stores and payment providers on Android and iOS, according to The Japan Times.
The legislation is said to be drafted by Hirokazu Matsuno, the Japanese government’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, who also chiefly manages Japan’s digital market competition watchdog. The government aims for the law to be voted on by the country’s parliament sometime next year before going into effect.
The proposed regulation is still in the drafting process, which reportedly commenced today. Japan hopes that the move will increase app pricing competition on iOS and Android, where users would be able to download apps at a lower price than the one stipulated on the App Store and the Play Store.
The law, if passed, would be markedly similar to the EU’s Digital Market Act (DMA) which goes into effect in 2024. The DMA forces “digital gatekeepers” to open up their platforms for third-party app marketplaces and payment providers in a bid to reduce a gatekeeper’s monopoly over their own platform. Apple is rumored to allow “sideloading” apps as part of a future iOS 17 update that could go live in early 2024, according to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman.
In addition to third-party app stores, Japan would also like to open up payments to go through external platforms other than Apple and Google. App developers will be able to bill their customers through low-commission providers, therefore bypassing Apple’s and Google’s fees, which can reach up to 30% of the total transaction.
The drafted law will also target the “preferential treatment” Apple and Google give to default first-party apps. If passed, default apps that come preloaded on iOS and Android devices will be required to be deleted easily. Preloaded services and search engines would also be required to be easily swapped out for third-party offerings. Apple already allows iPhone users to set up their own default mail and browser apps, but the proposal would theoretically be extended to other services, such as maps or music streaming.
It remains to be seen how much of an effect these laws by the EU and Japan could have on the iPhone’s user experience. According to a recent survey by Setapp, most developers seem reluctant to abandon the App Store in favor of a third-party marketplace. Out of 701 surveyed developers, only 14% stated they would completely abandon the App Store, whereas 46% of surveyees said they would deploy their apps on a third-party platform besides Apple’s.