Google, Apple and More Face US Bill to Rein in App Stores’ Market Control

A bipartisan trio of senators introduced legislation to rein in app stores controlled by companies that they believe have too much market power, such as Apple and Alphabet's Google.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar of the Democratic Party teamed up with Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn to introduce the bill, which would prohibit big app stores from forcing app developers to use their payment system.

"I found this predatory abuse of Apple and Google so deeply offensive on so many levels," Blumenthal said in an interview Wednesday. "Their power has reached a point where they are impacting the whole economy in stifling and strangling innovation."

The stakes are high for Apple, whose App Store anchors its $53.8 billion services business as the smartphone market has matured.

Apple said its app store was "an unprecedented engine of economic growth and innovation, one that now supports more than 2.1 million jobs across all 50 states."

Blumenthal said he expected companion legislation in the House of Representatives "very soon."

Google declined to comment, but a spokeswoman said that Android devices often come preloaded with two or more app stores, and that app sellers can allow downloads without using Google's Play Store.

Spotify, Epic, and Tile all praised the bill. Tile, a company that creates tags to help people find lost items, expressed dissatisfaction with Apple's launch of a competing product earlier this year.

In South Korea, a similar law revision has been introduced. Last year, Google announced that it would impose certain in-app payment methods and receive a 30% commission fee from non-game digital content.

Apple's control over apps on its App Store, as well as 15 percent to 30% commissions on digital sales, have been scrutinized by regulators. A federal judge is reviewing testimony in order to make a decision on Epic Games' antitrust lawsuit.

Epic and a large group of state attorneys general have both sued Google for its app store practices, alleging that it illegally worked to maintain a monopoly for its Android app store.