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Australian Watchdog to Probe Apple and Google on Browser Domination

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After passing the News Media Bargaining Code to make Facebook and Google pay for news content on their platforms, the Australian government has now begun deliberations on the latter’s browser domination, also putting Apple under the probe, too.

Led by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the new battle is focused on “choice and competition in internet search and web browsers,” reads a new press release.

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According to the commission, pre-installed services and services set as a default can function as barriers to entry and expansion.

“Consumers may stick with a default option on account of imperfect information. For example, consumers may remain with an incumbent search service rather than switch to a new entrant if they do not know whether the incumbent provides a higher quality search service than the new entrant, and substantial information costs would have to be incurred to compare the quality of the two search services,” it argued.

The consumer watchdog on Thursday put out a call for submissions, with a number of questions posed in a discussion paper [PDF], centred on internet browser defaults.

It will also consider “whether there are any proposals, other than choice screens, that may facilitate competition and improve consumer choice in the supply of general search services and browsers in Australia.”

The watchdog claimed Apple’s Safari is the most common browser used in Australia for smartphones and tablets, accounting for 51 percent of use. This is followed by Chrome with 39 percent, Samsung Internet with 7 percent, and with less than 1 percent, Mozilla Firefox.

This shifts on desktop, with Chrome being the most used browser with 62 percent market share, followed by Safari with 18 percent, Edge 9 percent, and Firefox 6 percent.

The consultation and proposal is part of the ACCC’s ongoing digital platform services inquiry, which targets the activities and behaviours of ‘big tech’ firms.

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