What's in the Google/Apple App Store bill

From The Verge's "Everything you need to know about the bill that could blow up the app store" posted Wednesday:

You can read the Open App Markets Act or S. 2710 for yourself — unlike some omnibus tech reform bills, it’s not that long. But basically, it says companies that operate app stores with more than 50 million US users shouldn’t engage in certain potentially anti-competitive behaviors. That includes:

    • Requiring developers to use the company’s own in-app payment processor as a condition of using the store
    • Penalizing a developer for offering better prices on another app store
    • Restricting developers from directly contacting customers with business offers
    • Using private analytics data from third-party apps to build its own competitors
    • “Unreasonably” preferencing its own apps in search results

If a company that owns an app store also controls the underlying operating system, it also has to make it easy for users to perform the following tasks:

    • Install third-party apps without using the App Store
    • Choose third-party apps and app stores as system defaults
    • Uninstall or hide preinstalled apps
    • Companies that break the rules could be subject to antitrust enforcement from the
    •  Federal Trade Commission, the Attorney General, and state attorneys general, as

SO THE BILL IS AIMED AT APPLE AND GOOGLE?

Mostly, yes.

My take: Now the question is whether any part of it will become the law of the land.

See Mark Gurman: Apple’s App Store will survive

14 Comments

  1. Michel Contant said:
    I can understand the « use a third party payment system » as long as apple is paid for the store portion as they stated for the Dutch , but multiples
    Store, how can this help customer unless they put regulations on those store to be approved and show that they will do due diligence before accepting an app? ( I know Apple is not perfect but at least it’s not the Wild West).

    1
    February 10, 2022
  2. Gary Morton said:
    So all the policies that make the app store a safe, simple, and secure place to install applications on you phone and/or ipad would now be considered anti-competitive. From my perspective as a user, the App situation on the iphone is much preferred to what we have on the Mac. On the Mac, lazy developers can put out bug ridden and security problem infested software and there is no gatekeeper other than you to help keep these off your computer. Updates are often a pain in the neck. Finding good software is more difficult. Payments are at your own risk.

    The Mac situation is partially the way it is because of how it evolved. Phone software distribution evolved differently, learning from the mistakes of the PC. Maybe this bill should be christened “The Open App Markets De-evolution Act.” Word in DC is that this bill passed out of committee as a favor to some of its creators but has little chance of passing the full House and Senate. I hope that is true. Does not seem like it would be very popular to voters.

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    February 10, 2022
    • Bart Yee said:
      Gary, I wish I could upvote your comment 1000X. The App Store evolved out of the chaos that was/is the Microsoft MS-DOS and Windows distribution model where independent software developers could offer you to buy their software at stores or sites via CD/DVD and you loaded it up at your peril. Plus you had to learn every fricking quirk, problem, and interface nuance (Microsoft) plus security risks. And every time Microsoft changed Windows versions, you had to seek out updates, some of which never came. Fast forward from 1992 to 2014 or so and we see that most developers either succeeded or withered due to Microsoft essentially killing them with Office 365, multiple mergers, buyouts, or flat loss of share as physical media evolved to software download from potentially multiple software sites or individual company sites and a freemium or subscription style software “ownership” / distribution.

      Problem is, I/we have no idea whatsoever of the risks for security / malware / data mining / country of origin / suitability to my device-PC, etc. even today from either the software or the “app stores” from which they are distributed. Plenty of sites have been hacked, some software intentionally has ad-hacker-data mining malware inside or attached, and you have to have yet more antivirus, anti-malware, and anti-anti software just to try to protect yourself, assuming you’re “techie-savvy” enough to even think about it and do so.

      Despite 30+ years of “evolution”, the Microsoft PC and even Mac model of software distribution is fraught with friction and insecurity, plus the damn software is often bloated, inefficient and resource intensive, primarily because it then entails the need to “update” to the latest Intel Processors, more and faster RAM, and ever expanding hard drives/now SSD’s to practically maintain the same performance. And you still have to do your own frickin tech support and maintenance, plus corporate has legions of IT departments to troubleshoot the various devices and PC combo iterations. No wonder PC and software sales had stagnated over the last 10 years until the pandemic hit.

      5
      February 10, 2022
      • Fred Stein said:
        Well Bart, I did add one upvote to Gary for you – ha. And upvoted you.

        Gad you brought up Windows. Surely these legislators remember the security meltdowns with Windows.

        3
        February 10, 2022
    • Bart Yee said:
      The PC / console world wants the mobile world to revert back to PC style software distribution. Some of that is seen on Android already, with third party App Stores, sideloading, and multiple custom OS ROMS, the latter necessitated by short 2-3 year Android OS support, again pushing for frequent device turnover and churn.

      NO THANKS!!! I and apparently 1.7 Billion other satisfied Apple users have already exercised OUR CHOICE and OUR MONEY to confirm we like Apple’s App Store distribution model, their hardware, their iOS interface, AND Apple curation, review and approval (however flawed), security, PLUS data tracking optionality.

      We Apple users have plenty of alternate and competitive choices in the Android world with fragmented OS, multiple hardware vendors, CPUs and chipmakers, multiple side app stores and their overwhelming malware and security risks, not to mention Google-Android data gathering to the highest bidder. AND WE REJECTED THAT STORE MODEL AND THE OVERALL ANDROID HARDWARE + SOFTWARE ECOSYSTEM, let alone in many cases abandoning the PC for all but the most specific of “computer” uses for iPhones and iPads.

      2
      February 10, 2022
      • Bart Yee said:
        As many of people here have said, Apple users are quite happy with Apple and its App Store and many of Apple’s own software apps. We have zillions of curated choices in the App Store to supplement or replace any app function we want. I have plenty of choice and I CAN choose to add more apps OR NOT add apps. That doesn’t make Apple Anti-competitive IMO, that means Apple gave me good enough basic apps as part of iOS that “just work” so I choose not to explore or download for different or “better”.

        MY CHOICE. MY PLATFORM CHOICE too. Developers, I’m sorry, you would not have ANYTHING without Apple’s hardware and iOS software platforms constant existence and evolution which costs Apple BILLIONS of dollars to build and maintain. Apple has every right to charge a commission for software to be used on its platform and to ensure it meets the quality standards WE users expect and pay for in the Apple ecosystem. YOU DEVELOPERS have alternative options to develop for Android and hell, even the huge Windows market where in both you can third party, sideload, direct market, and nickel and dime those users all you want. Be happy and leave the Apple hardware and software ecosystem and all its rules, security, and apparent friction for you, really it’s fine and Ok. If you don’t like it, LEAVE, we users will / won’t miss you, partly or mostly because we don’t trust you nearly as much as we trust Apple.

        Good day and good riddance to you!!

        4
        February 10, 2022
        • Bart Yee said:
          Uh, I’m a little fired up today.
          🌪 🌶 🔥

          6
          February 10, 2022
        • David Emery said:
          It is a fair question to ask of this legislation: “If I am a user of Apple products who is currently happy with the Apple App Store and related rules, will anything in this legislation force me to change how I use my phone?”

          This seems to meet that criterion:
          • Penalizing a developer for offering better prices on another app store
          • Restricting developers from directly contacting customers with business offers
          That’s a direct assault to ‘my guarantee of best price’ from Apple.

          3
          February 10, 2022
  3. Gary Gouriluk said:
    This is insanity! The people wanting to make the rules no nothing about software. Like a guy who knows only cricket re-writing the rules for baseball.

    9
    February 10, 2022
  4. Jonny T said:
    Am I right in recalling that Apple HAD to make the iPhone as secure as it was because of its access to the phone networks and its independence from the network providers, originally AT&T. Can’t see why that should have changed.

    2
    February 10, 2022
  5. Daniel Epstein said:
    The legislation seems to be interested in recreating and preserving “the Tower of Babel” situation the computer world has been wallowing in since the early days. And all in the name of competition. Every device that is popular enough needs to be vulnerable to attack from any software developer because the developer is being controlled too much by the system software design that restricts their options. Apple needs to have competition for software on it’s own devices because it has grown such a big market it is unfair that others have to abide by Apple rules to enter? Apple devices have to have the same rules as similar competitors devices because they are successful? I do think parts of this even if passed and signed into law would not pass a legal test once it gets into a court. How many companies does this apply to and why is something legal to do if you have 49 million users which becomes illegal if you have over 50 million. Sounds like a very arbitrary standard.

    3
    February 10, 2022
  6. Fred Stein said:
    OTOH. How many iOS users, other than avid gamers, will choose opt our of Apple’s safety net to save a few bucks?

    Avid gamers can rack up $100’s per year for in-App purchases. Impact yes, Existential threat, no. Legislative process and judicial challenges delay any impact for several years.

    1
    February 10, 2022

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