Thinking | 15 September 2020

Consumer and developer app-etite for Google Play and Apple ‘marketplaces’

By Ben Hamilton

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced it will be scrutinising mobile application stores as part of its five-year inquiry examining markets relating to the supply of digital platform services in Australia.

The ACCC has expressed the view that mobile app sales are ‘dominated’ by the Apple App Store, for iOS, and the Google Play Store, for Android devices.

The focus of the ACCC’s inquiry will primarily be on competitiveness, efficiency and transparency of markets associated with the supply of mobile apps.[1] A particular focus is on the Apple and Google app ‘marketplaces’. The ACCC has not ruled out including other significant suppliers of app marketplaces in Australia.[2]

Inquiry focus

The key issues that the ACCC is interested in are:

  1. The extent of available consumer choice for marketplaces and getting a better understanding of how consumers and app developers choose to engage with these marketplaces.
  2. The collection and use of consumer data, including the amount and type of data being collected.
  3. The availability of information to consumers prior to downloading an app, including information regarding quality and associated costs.
  4. The ‘in-app purchase’ requirement and fees charged by Apple and Google.
  5. The availability of information to developers regarding Apple and Google’s review process, their ranking system and the effects these policies have on app developers in Australia.
  6. Consumer experience relating to scams and reporting these scams.

Important dates

Submissions to the ACCC on matters outlined in its Issues Paper are to be made by 2 October 2020 with the report due to the Treasurer by 31 March 2021. The ACCC has published factsheets for consumers and app developers.

This article was written with the assistance of Monique Sterrenberg, Law Graduate. 

[1] Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, ‘Digital platform services Inquiry - March 2021 report on app marketplaces’ (Issues paper, September 2020) 5.

[2] Ibid 10.


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