Japan Industry Groups Slam ‘Oligopoly’ on Smartphones, Urge Passage of Bill Allowing 3rd-Party App Stores

Reuters file photo
The Google logo is seen in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January.

Seven IT-related industry groups released a joint statement on Friday supporting a new bill that would promote competition in smartphone software, with considering to Apple and Google, which dominate the operating system and app markets. Japan’s tech companies are on weak footing compared to their U.S. rivals, and it is highly unusual for groups in the industry to jointly criticize the tech giants.

The seven groups include the Mobile Content Forum, the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association, the Information Technology Federation of Japan and the Japan Startup Support Association. The groups are made up of companies that distribute apps, game companies and software development companies. Altogether, more than 550 companies are represented.

The statement argues that the tech giants prioritize their own interests through an “oligopoly,” imposing excessive burdens such as fees on app companies. It also says there is an urgent need for new rules to manage the tech giants’ dominance and promote tech innovation, before calling for the bill’s passage.

The bill is currently being deliberated in the Diet and includes provisions that would allow other companies to open app stores and prohibit unfair treatment of app distribution companies. An executive of an app industry association said the statement was released because the bill has been submitted to the current Diet session and there is a growing need to convey the industry’s views to the public.