The Japan Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said it would investigate tech giants Apple and Google’s alleged anti-competitive practices in the region. More specifically, the agency wants to determine whether the two companies are limiting options for customers and eliminating potential competition with the Android and iOS mobile operating systems.
The FTC will interview app developers, OS operators, as well as smartphone owners for these investigations, the commission’s Secretary-General Shuichi Sugahisa said on Wednesday. In addition to exploring violations with smartphones, the agency will also look into smartwatches and other wearable devices.
The Japanese FTC will partner with the government’s Digital Market Competition Council towards these investigations
The Commission will put together a report detailing the market structure of these operating systems. Further, the report will look into why the competition has remained stagnant. It will also list out possible violations under Japanese law. The FTC will work in conjunction with the Japanese government’s Digital Market Competition Council.
Earlier this year, the Japanese government put together the Act on Improving Transparency and Fairness of Digital Platforms (TFDPA). Officials now have to establish whether the new law is applicable to the smartphone OS market. If they concur, Google and Apple may have to submit regular reports on transactions to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.
Apple enjoys a healthy 70% smartphone OS market share in Japan. Meanwhile, Android only has a 30% market share in the region. App developers are required to adhere to the software specifications of Android and iOS. The watchdog is considering whether this is a violation of local regulations.
As Nikkei points out, Google was previously accused of asking OEMs to include its Search app by default. This meant that customers couldn’t use other search apps on their phones.
The FTC’s investigation will determine if Google and Apple are leveraging their market dominance to crush the competition. This is one of the several investigations Google is facing globally.
Recently, European Union regulators began investigations into the company’s practices with Google Assistant. Officials want to determine whether Google is forcing OEMs to install Assistant as the default virtual assistant on Android devices. A report went on to say that regulators are also eyeing Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri voice assistants for similar violations.