The Biden administration wants significant changes to Apple’s and Google’s mobile app models, with both companies “acting as gatekeepers for the apps people and businesses rely on” and “inflating prices and reducing innovation.” may cause harm to consumers,” the company said in a statement. “
Market analysis and recommendations for lawmakers and regulators were released today in a report by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The report was mandated by President Biden’s 2021 competition executive order, which the White House touted today as part of “new advances on his competition agenda.”
The NTIA concludes that “consumers have little access to apps outside of the app store model controlled by Apple and Google,” and that “Apple and Google do not restrict how apps can be used, for example. It creates a hurdle for developers to get consumers by imposing technical limitations on it: it either has to work or it has to go through a slow and opaque review process by developers.”
One of the recommendations would be to require mobile platform operators to allow users to sideload applications, which would be a big change, especially for Apple. Company executives, including CEO Tim Cook, have spoken out against the move to require sideloading on the iPhone and other of his iOS devices. The NTIA said voluntary action would likely not solve the problem, adding that “new legislation and additional antitrust enforcement actions are likely to be needed to foster competition in the app ecosystem.” claim.
While the NTIA notes that Apple and Google “manage their app ecosystems differently,” the two companies “encourage app developers to sell some apps more than others because of access fees.” It created unnecessary barriers and costs, even to overriding feature restrictions.” “The incentive structure created by Apple’s and Google’s current policies and practices leaves alternative distribution models with significant shortcomings and limited functionality,” the NTIA said.
“Among other things, these setbacks provide an opportunity for app developers and alternative mobile app stores to compete on a level playing field, whether they compete with each other or with the products and services offered by Gatekeeper. “All these factors lead to potential losses for consumers: high prices due to fees charged by gatekeepers, hampered by policy decisions restricting access to smartphone features. innovations that have been featured, apps that have not been featured and the loss of app choices, etc. It is accessible even to smartphone users.”
NTIA: “Prohibit sideloading restrictions”
While acknowledging the security risks of unintentional installation of malicious software, the NTIA has urged US lawmakers and regulators to ban restrictions on sideloading. The NTIA states that “legislative and regulatory measures should prohibit restrictions on sideloading, alternative app stores, and web apps, while maintaining adequate degrees of freedom for privacy and security protection.
Congress requires major platforms to provide “ready-access means for users to download and install third-party apps and mobile app stores, including methods other than the Google Play store and Apple’s mobile app store. Laws should be enacted to allow or require the provision of reasonable privacy, security, and safety precautions (e.g., to prevent the unintentional installation of malicious software).” said the NTIA.
Sideloading apps on Android isn’t that hard, but the How-To Geek guide says users should be careful where they get sideloaded apps for security reasons. Apple’s iOS has always been locked down, but Apple reportedly plans to support sideloading and third-party app stores by 2024 in response to new EU regulations.