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eBay, Expedia, Amazon & Bookings.com, To Be Dragged Into Massive ACCC Digital Investigation

The decision by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has been a long time coming according to the CEO of research group Telsyte it also sets up a bruising battle between Apple, Google and the ACCC who is already involved in a head on fight with both Google and Facebook over news coverage, their latest investigation will also include the operations of Expedia, Amazon, eBay and Bookings.com.

Foad Fadaghi Managing Director told ChannelNews ” I am not surprised that the ACCC has moved to investigate app downloads and online sites, I think many in the industry have been expecting it for a while”.

The investigation will be welcome news to brands such as Netflix and Epic Games who claim that Apple’s demands of up to 30% of the revenue from app sales in the first year is excessive.It could also result in both Google and Apple having to identify how much revenue they actually make in Australia from app downloads.

he ACCC is claiming that today app downloads from the Apple Store and the Google Play Store as well as the Microsoft store play a fundamental role in the operation of many businesses and in the lives of consumers.

There are millions of apps available for download by consumers,1 and they provide a wide variety of services including games, entertainment, health, and fitness, and facilitating the procurement of physical services, like food delivery and rideshare.

It’s estimated that consumers globally spend billions of dollars every week buying apps.

The ACCC claim that Google and Apple play a significant role in the supply of apps, with the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store being by far the most widely used app marketplaces.

The Australian regulator is examining potential competition and consumer issues in this area.

In particular, the ACCC is seeking views on:

1) The ability and incentive for Apple and Google to link or bundle their other goods and
services with their app marketplaces, and any effect this has on consumers and
businesses.

2) How Apple and Google’s various roles as the key suppliers of app marketplaces, but also
as app developers, operators of the mobile licensing operating system and device
manufacturers affect the ability of third-party app providers to compete, including the
impact of app marketplace fee structures on rivals’ costs.

3) Terms, conditions, and fees (including in-app purchases) imposed on businesses to place
apps on app marketplaces.

4) The effect of app marketplace fee structures on innovation.

5) How app marketplaces determine whether an app is allowed on their marketplace, and
the effect of this on app providers, developers, and consumers.

6) How where an app is ranked in an app marketplace is determined.

7) The collection and use of consumer data by app marketplaces, and whether consumers
are sufficiently informed about and have control over the extent of data that is collected.

8) Whether processes put in place by app marketplaces to protect consumers from harmful
apps are working.

The ACCC has also invited interested parties, where appropriate, to discuss confidentiality concerns with the ACCC in advance of providing written material.

The ACCC said that in December 2019, the Treasurer directed the ACCC to conduct a five-year inquiry into markets for the supply of digital platform services.
The Inquiry will provide a report to the Treasurer every six months.

The first six monthly report will be given to the Treasurer by 30 September 2020. It will consider potential competition and consumer issues in relation to online private messaging, some broader platform-wide issues.

The second report, will be given to the Treasurer by 31 March 2021 and will focus on app marketplaces as well as other types of electronic marketplaces, such as services provided by Amazon, eBay and others, and specialised services such as travel and booking services by platforms like Expedia and booking.com, will be considered by the ACCC in future reports.

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