Voters Unconvinced by Provisions of Bill to Boost App Store Competition

Only two provisions of the Open App Markets Act measures received at least 30% support, per new Morning Consult/Politico data
June 22, 2022 at 6:00 am UTC

As advocacy groups and lawmakers push hard for Congress to pass the Open App Markets Act and boost competition in app stores beyond Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, registered voters are unconvinced by the bill’s provisions, according to the latest Morning Consult/Politico survey.

Voters Largely Unsure About Provisions to Boost App Store Competition

None of the measures of the Open App Markets Act received more than 32% support
Respondents were asked if they support a law that would prevent app stores from doing the following:
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Survey conducted June 17-20, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,004 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Democrats more supportive of bill’s measures

  • Only two provisions of the proposed law — preventing app stores from self-preferencing their own apps in search results and preventing app stores from requiring app developers to use the store’s own payment processor — received at least 30% support from those surveyed.
  • The “Don’t know/No opinion” responses garnered the largest shares on every provision except one: a requirement that would prevent app stores from restricting developers’ ability to inform users about special offers. On that provision, 37% were unsure and an equal share was opposed.
  • Independents and Republicans were either split on or more likely to oppose nearly every provision. The opposite was true for Democrats, with the exception of the measure about special offers, in which the party’s voters were essentially split.
  • The results are in line with voters’ lack of enthusiasm for congressional regulation of the technology sector compared to other priorities. In a recent Morning Consult/Politico survey, just 15% said it should be a top priority.
  • The Senate version of the Open App Markets Act passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, though it has just 11 co-sponsors and reportedly has not been put on the chamber floor for a full vote amid lawmaker concerns about the political consequences of it and another antitrust bill. Companion legislation in the House is awaiting further action.

App developers seek end to “terrible situation”

During a recent event on Capitol Hill to push for passage of antitrust legislation, Gene Burrus, director of global competition policy at Spotify Technology SA, said he lamented the “terrible situation” in which app developers find themselves blocked from a direct customer relationship by Google and Apple and their respective app stores.

Both companies have argued that the legislation would undermine privacy and security for smartphone users. In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mark Isakowitz, Google’s vice president for government affairs and public policy, accused lawmakers of trying to “artificially pick winners and losers in a highly competitive marketplace.” 

Lawmakers have also raised concerns about the possible chilling effect on free speech if only a few companies are able to dominate the app store marketplace. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said during the event on Capitol Hill that if companies can unilaterally remove social media apps or other platforms for speech they disagree with, it would be “dangerous in a country like ours." 

Burrus said antitrust legislation would improve the user experience on apps, help customers better manage their subscriptions and allow them to more easily take advantage of deals.

"Quite frankly, this cracks the gate that is currently between app developers everywhere, including Spotify, and their potential customers or their existing customers,” he said.

The June 17-20, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,004 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Chris Teale previously worked at Morning Consult as a reporter covering technology.

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