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NTIA Seeks Input on Competition in the Mobile App Ecosystem

April 25, 2022 by Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information

Apps on mobile devices are a part of daily life for many Americans. They allow us to talk with our friends, find a ride home, play games, or monitor our health. These applications on our mobile phones and tablets can help small business owners reach new customers, and thousands of American entrepreneurs and innovators are working on apps that increase productivity, improve health care and make learning more fun.

That’s why mobile apps have become a significant part of our economy -- by one industry account, the app economy was valued at $1.7 trillion in 2020, employing more than 5.9 million Americans.

In his Executive Order on promoting competition, President Biden recognized America’s tech sector as an engine of innovation and growth, but he warned that dominant Internet platforms can “use their power to exclude market entrants, to extract monopoly profits, and to gather intimate personal information that they can exploit for their own advantage.”  

With the goal of promoting a fair, open, and competitive marketplace, the Executive Order directed the Department of Commerce to conduct a study of the mobile app ecosystem, and to use an open and transparent process to hear from the many stakeholders in the app economy, including consumers, app developers, businesses, and nonprofits.

To accomplish those goals, NTIA is seeking public comment on the state of competition in the mobile app ecosystem, the factors affecting app development and distribution, and active ways to increase competition, through government or private sector action. We are interested in understanding what shapes the competitive marketplace of the apps we have on mobile phones and tablets, and how the dynamics are different from the market for apps for home computers or game consoles.

We will use the input we receive from this Request for Comment to inform our efforts to develop a report to the White House on ways to improve competition, reduce barriers to entry, and maximize user benefits.

NTIA wants to learn what app developers, organizations, and the people who use phones and tablets experience when trying to make, distribute, find, use and update apps. We want to gain insight into the obstacles that interfere with how apps reach people on mobile phones and tablets.  And we are looking at ways to improve how app users – from all communities – can benefit from apps. 

Those wishing to provide input have until May 23, 2022, to submit comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov