Access charges in software-based termination monopolies (No. 514) © Photo Credit: -

Access charges in software-based termination monopolies (No. 514)

This discussion paper analyzes app access considerations & remuneration approaches within dominant ecosystems, focussing on access models like app store listing, sideloading & alternative stores.

Mobile platforms built around smartphones integrate control across devices, operating systems, app stores, payments, and first-party services. This end-to-end power enables unilateral control over distribution channels and access terms to customers. Issues like self-preferencing, discriminatory access, and bundling requirements have drawn increasing regulatory focus.

The recent introduction of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) by the European Union repre-sents a significant development in the regulation of digital platforms and mobile ecosys-tems. By imposing rules aimed at promoting competition and fair access, the DMA directly motivates an examination of access considerations and pricing structures surrounding digital platforms and app stores.

This research report examines and analyzes various access considerations, pricing models, and remedies, especially related to app stores, within mobile platforms. A key focus lays on alternative access routes for app distribution and content beyond dominant app stores, such as sideloading and third-party stores.

The report begins by describing the current status quo of digital ecosystems, the different modes of access and app distribution such as app store listings, sideloading, and alternative app stores. It provides an overview of the regulatory landscape and existing approaches to access and usage pricing in the software and digital sector. The paper develops a systematic decision process for evaluating fees for mandated access, analyzing when compensation is appropriate, relevant access modes, associated cost and value components, and suitable valuation approaches. It discusses the FRAND and benchmarking framework proposed under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), and highlights open questions regarding practical implementation and specification.

Overall, the paper aims to provide a comprehensive examination of the considerations surrounding ecosystem and app store access and appropriate remuneration models within the complex, integrated environment of modern digital ecosystems.