An Apple Japanese antitrust investigation was closed last month, when the Cupertino company made a major concession. But just six weeks later, a new antitrust investigation has been opened in Japan, into the market dominance of iOS and Android.

The news comes on the same day that the Dutch antitrust authority found Apple’s in-app payment arrangements to be anti-competitive …

Background

The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) previously conducted an investigation into the App Store’s in-app purchase system. It concluded that it was indeed anti-competitive for Apple to force developers to pay Apple’s commission on in-app purchases, and that it should allow them to point users to external payment options, like their own websites.

Apple announced on September 1 that this case had finally been settled, with the company agreeing a concession for so-called “reader apps,” which is Apple’s term for apps that offer content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video. Those apps will be allowed to include a single link to external payment sites.

Apple said that this concession would apply globally from early next year.

Apple Japanese antitrust investigation #4

However, Nikkei Asia reports that a new antitrust investigation has been opened – again by the JFTC.

This will be the fourth Japanese antitrust investigation to include Apple. The first, opened back in 2019, examined the iPhone maker’s relationship with component suppliers; the second is looking into the market for cloud services, including iCloud; the third related to in-app payment.

This latest one concerns mobile operating systems, examining how and why iOS and Android between them dominate the mobile operating system market.

Japan’s Fair Trade Commission will investigate whether Apple and Google are leveraging their dominance in the smartphone operating system market to eliminate competition and severely limit options for consumers […]

The antitrust watchdog will compile a report outlining OS market structure and the reason why competition has remained static. The commission will work with the central government’s Digital Market Competition Council, which is moving forward with its own market probe.

Practices found to be anticompetitive will be itemized in the report, along with possible violations of Japan’s law against monopolies.

Within Japan, Apple’s share of the market is almost 70%, with Android accounting for the remaining 30%.

The Fair Trade Commission will probe whether Apple and Google-parent Alphabet are using their market supremacy to corner the apps [market] and leave consumers at a disadvantage.

The investigation will cover not just smartphones, but also smartwatches and “other wearables.”

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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