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Japan's antitrust watchdog to probe mobile OSes

All invited to comment about how operating systems have screwed them

Japan's Fair Trade Commission on Wednesday launched an investigation into potential antitrust behavior by mobile OS providers – with Apple and Google at the top of the list.

Sugahisa explained that the investigation will include fact-finding surveys and interviews that consider online retailers, app stores, cloud services and digital advertising. Wearables are also under consideration.

The Commission has established a web site – or rather a "Digital Platformer Information Service Window" – to collect data from businesses and consumers, from which it will compile its report on anticompetitive practices.

The inquiry will collaborate with Japan's Digital Market Competition Council, which has already begun antitrust discussions on OS layer structures.

In Japan, Apple's iOS has dominant market share – a position Apple enjoys in the USA but few other nations. Worldwide, Google's Android is the market-share leader. There are other mobile OSes out there, but seriously folks …

Android and iOS are both notorious for using "walled gardens" to steer users toward Google and Apple services, respectively, and away from competing alternatives.

That issue has seen both earn regulatory scrutiny in places like the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Australia. Sugahisa said he's open to collaboration with other jurisdictions on Japan's probe.

The Commission's effort comes after Apple agreed to let some apps steer users towards third-party payment providers for "reader apps".

That change came after Apple settled a US anti-trust case by permitting developers to contact users directly through apps, among other minor changes.

South Korea has caused both companies the most trouble, with a recent law that stops companies with dominant market positions – (cough) Apple and Google (cough) – from requiring software developers on their platforms to use their respective app stores' payment systems when it comes to paid-for apps or in-app purchases. ®

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