Japan Considering Legislation to Open App Markets Beyond Apple, Google

The Japanese government is reportedly in the process of crafting legislation that would compel major tech companies, including Apple and Google, to allow users to download applications from sources outside their official app stores, such as Google Play and the App Store. This move is part of an effort to encourage competition and address concerns about the dominant position of these tech giants in the Japanese market. The proposed regulations are expected to cover various aspects, including app stores, payments, search, browsers, and operating systems.

One significant aspect of the legislation is that it could potentially allow Japanese companies to host third-party app stores on both iOS and Android platforms. Additionally, developers might be granted the option to choose payment systems offered by local firms, potentially resulting in lower service charges.

The legislation, when implemented, would empower the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) to impose fines on companies found in violation of antitrust regulations. The fines could amount to up to 6% of the revenue generated from activities deemed illegal. The detailed provisions of the regulations are anticipated to be disclosed before the arrival of spring next year.

This move by Japan is reminiscent of similar regulatory efforts in other regions, particularly the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). The DMA, expected to take full effect in 2024, designates companies with over 45 million monthly active users and a market capitalization of EUR 75 billion as gatekeepers providing core platform services. As per the DMA, Apple would be required to enable developers to publish their iOS apps outside of the App Store.

The potential changes in Japan align with a broader global trend where authorities are scrutinizing and considering regulations to address concerns related to the market dominance of major tech companies and promote a more competitive landscape.

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