Google Play Store dominance is being threatened by new Senate bill

Aug 13, 2021
Google, Google Android, iOS, Mobile Computing

U.S Senators have just introduced a new bill to the senate targeting the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The reasoning behind the bill is that Google and Apple stifle any competition by holding a tight grip over their app stores. Despite being a U.S bill, this could affect users on a global scale.

The Open Apps Market Act is being spearheaded by Senators Richard Blumenthal, Amy Klobuchar, and Marsha Blackburn. A joint press release on the new bill reported that Google and Apple have too much control over the two dominating mobile operating systems. This also means that both Google and Apple’s respective app stores dictate the terms of the app market, blocking the competition and limiting consumer choice.

The bill outlines several policies that could completely change how the app stores are operated. One of the main policies of this bill directly challenges the Play Payments Billing System that Google requires from app developers. This would mean that a company cannot require that developers use an in-app payment system that the covered company owns to get their app distributed on the store.

The bill will also require that the OS allow downloads from other sources than the default app store. And users will be given the option to hide or delete default apps from their devices.

This is all happening conveniently amidst the continuing fight between Epic and Google/Apple over app store fees and billing methods. It’s also not the first time that Google’s policies have been targeted. Two class-action suits have been filed against the Play Store. Both citing ‘unlawful’ charges and calling the surcharge of 30% an unearned tax imposed without justification.

At this time, Google has not yet responded with a comment. However, in previous cases of a similar nature, Google has consistently defended its policies, stating that Android gives users more options than other mobile platforms regarding the variety of apps and apps stores to use. Although one thing is clear, if this bill were to pass, it would affect users and developers globally.

Closing words

While many of us feel that it is high time for the rise of some competition for the two mobile OS giants, it also stands to reason that while more competition could have many benefits such as better quality apps, there could also be backlashes in security and privacy if not managed correctly and loosening policies too much.

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Google Play Store dominance is being threatened by new Senate bill
U.S Senators have just introduced a new bill to the senate targeting the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
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  1. Anonymous said on August 17, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Apple and Google in future if they don’t get the money they want from their stores they will start charging for iOS and Android Fuschia. The same way Microsoft charges for Windows. So all Android phones will eventually be sold at least +50 dollars more in future,
    But I don’t think it will happen, Apple and Google will make these senators to run for their lives when they start blaming them for the new increased smartphone prices. Angry consumers will take care of them lol.

  2. common sense computing said on August 14, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    It would be nice to be able to de-bloat a phone without root, adb, or sketchy apps.

  3. Anonymous said on August 14, 2021 at 4:52 am

    Not nearly enough. Google and Microsoft both have to be broken up. Their OS divisions should be separated from the rest, and then the operating systems should be treated like any company’s software product and stopped from spying on users.

  4. Google Evil said on August 14, 2021 at 4:15 am

    Down with Google! Up with the People!

  5. Coriy said on August 14, 2021 at 3:31 am

    Google is right, the Play Store does give more options, though some of those options are basically repeats: You’ve got developers who create multiple recolored versions versions of icon packs, and those who make near copies; You’ve got umpteen versions of basically the same app copied from open source; You’ve got free, freemium, paid, and subscription apps; You’ve got fake apps that do something(s) poorly and steal your data; You’ve got apps that track and serve you ads; repeat in multiple languages and countries; etc. So yes, the Play Store gives you options.
    What I find interesting is how Android (I’ve used versions 6,7, and 9 and they all do it) lies about having installed apps from F-Droid (Aurora Droid) and ones that I’ve side loaded (Bromite, NewPipe Aurora Droid, and a few others) from the developer’s site.

    Do I think this is going to go anywhere? Probably not, Google has deep pockets and is good at data collection.

  6. ULBoom said on August 13, 2021 at 7:30 pm

    With Android you can already download from other sources than the default app store and can already hide or delete default apps from devices.

    With iOS, IDK, since you can’t even get into the App(le) store without an apple id to see what might be available for their selection of five phones. They do offer dead page previews of .01% of their apps.

    Eyes wide open, eyes wide closed. Can’t think of another market where the main players operate so disparately. Giant hole in the middle.

    1. Curio said on August 13, 2021 at 8:31 pm

      Ubloom: While some of what you say is true, you can’t remove all default apps from Android devices. Google embeds themselves deeply in every device they licence as part of their contracts for Android use, with no hope of removing/hiding them (Google play services etc..) short of rooting the device and unlocking the bootloader and installing Googles generic OS Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Hiding apps don’t cut it. They must be entirely removable.

      Apple are rabid control freaks who never give full ownership rights to the end user/purchaser of their devices. Further, they retain the keys to enter and manipulate those devices as they will.

      Ownership rights (absolute control) are one of the core tenants of a free society, devices that you have but cannot do as you will with, you do not own.

  7. AOSP said on August 13, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    Quote: “The bill will also require that the OS allow downloads from other sources than the default app store. And users will be given the option to hide or delete default apps from their devices.”

    The core issues are contained in this one line. Te ability to remove (not hide) default apps on devices is absolutely essential to any kind of just solution. Google play services and all their proprietary apps should be removable by the user.

    Only Apple restricts any and all access to alternate app stores. Google allows the user to toggle “use unknown sources” on their devices.

    I’ve long referred Apple’s business to the “Own-to Rent” sales model instead of the “Rent-to- Own” model. With rent to own you are restricted on what you can do with your purchase until it is paid off. With Apple you pay full ripping retail from the onset but are never gien full ownership right no matter how long you “”own”” your purchase.

    Both companies should be required to allow removal of their proprietary control-wear spy-wear from their devices. Jail breaking (Apple) and Rooting (Android) should be available to the user without them needing to be digital locksmiths.

    You do not own something that you alone do not hold the keys.

  8. Gerard said on August 13, 2021 at 5:42 pm

    Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and a number of other tax evading tech companies have grown too big and too powerful and should be destro…, I mean should be broken up as soon as possible.

    1. Anonymous said on August 13, 2021 at 10:59 pm

      I am 14 and this is deep

  9. SteveB said on August 13, 2021 at 3:58 pm

    “while more competition could have many benefits such as better quality apps” – that’s a real leap of faith, it’s not necessarily a consequence – there have been competitors in the past (Blackberry, Palm, Microsoft etc) and others exist now (Samsung, Amazon, APK, Yalp etc) – there’s also alternatives like Chromebooks, the many Chinese ‘equivalents’ of Android to mention a couple – the USA can’t have it both ways (though no doubt they’ll try) – stop ‘unfavoured’ companies from using Android, but demand the App stores are opened up to others.

  10. Howard Allan Pearce said on August 13, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    “The reasoning behind the bill is that Google and Apple stifle any competition by holding a tight grip over their app stores. “:

    The key word is “their”.

    I hold a pretty tight grip over my property too but I did not think the state would consider that stifling competition

    1. DragoCubed said on August 16, 2021 at 9:54 am

      by your analogy, you think you can just avoid Google or Apple and have your own operating system? dafuq kinda dope you on man?

      none of y’all are looking at this realistically

      1. beemeup5 said on August 16, 2021 at 7:08 pm

        The best kind of dope, called “technical knowledge”. It’s extremely addictive because it makes you objectively superior to others the more of it you ingest. ;) The exact opposite of the opiate of the masses distributed by Google et al.

        Not depending on Google for your phone’s operating system is already a thing, it’s called a ‘custom ROM’. Good examples are LineageOS and /e/. Phones like the ‘Pro1 X’ by Fxtec come with an unlocked bootloader and custom ROM installed out-of-the-box. No need to have the Google Play Store installed, just download the APKs and install them manually.

        Is this “realistic”? For dependent plebs, probably not. But this is no great hurdle for anyone who doesn’t fear learning new things.

    2. beemeup5 said on August 14, 2021 at 5:54 am

      This reminds me of a little while back where some politicians were trying to stop social media companies from banning public officials.

      If you stand on public ground, you can say whatever you want and you have as much right to be there as anyone else. But if you stand on private property, your ability to stand there and say what you want is a PRIVILEGE extended to you by the property owner. A company’s platform is their private property no matter how big it gets, the same way your backyard doesn’t become public ground once it reaches a certain size.

      The government saying that a social media company cannot arbitrarily ban someone is EXACTLY THE SAME as government telling you that you MUST allow someone you don’t like to remain on YOUR backyard.

      1. kalmly said on August 14, 2021 at 4:39 pm

        And when that private property takes over all the other private properties it becomes a monopoly, and when it prevents others from maintaining their own “private properties” it becomes an army.

      2. beemeup5 said on August 14, 2021 at 10:23 pm

        “Takes over”? Who? When? You’re not referring to consensual purchases and acquisitions right?

        And how does the statement “prevents others from maintaining their own “private properties”” apply to the Google Play Store? Are you aware that side-loading apps is a thing?

    3. Anonymous said on August 14, 2021 at 12:23 am

      Maybe so, but your property is not in others peoples way.
      Big tech makes their products unavoidable, be it for work or social.
      Once they are unavoidable ( or hard to avoid ) they set the rules, EULA etc.
      If I could set my tollbooths and then claim they are mine so I can force my rules / tarifs
      upon you that would be equally weird.
      Same for setting defacto “standards” by (near) monopoly and then have the rest of us pay for it.

    4. Russ said on August 14, 2021 at 12:13 am

      Exactly! Something like this would be normal in oppressive countries where your “property” is actually “the people’s” property and can be forcefully taken away.

    5. Peterc said on August 13, 2021 at 7:36 pm

      @Howard Allan Pearce: Just a wild guess that your property doesn’t enjoy a dominant share in any market cognizable in antitrust and that your tight grip over it doesn’t affect interstate commerce.

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