Apple's largest store in JapanSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Apple and Google are being investigated over potential antitrust issues in Japan.
  • Discussions will decide whether businesses in Japan are treated fairly by the two American companies.

Both Apple and Google could find themselves on the wrong end of antitrust regulations in Japan, if local reports are accurate.

Initially reported by Nikkei and then picked up by The Japan Times before being spied by 9to5Mac, the story goes that the Japanese government is looking into the way both Apple and Google deal with local companies, including smartphone makers and those who produce computers and smart speakers. However, the initial report by Nikkei doesn't explain where its information came from.

The government will start investigating how Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google deal with Japanese smartphone makers, which could lead to the tightening of antitrust regulations, the Nikkei newspaper reported Sunday, without saying where it got the information.

A government panel, which consists of officials, bureaucrats and external experts, will kick off the discussion this month as Apple's iOS and Google's Android software stands at more than 90% of the Japanese smartphone market, the paper said. The probe will include input from executives from domestic smartphone handset-makers as well as manufacturers of smart speakers and personal computers.

It's thought that the Japanese government could decide to impose regulations on Apple and Google based on the outcome of the discussions. It isn't clear exactly what those discussions will look into, beyond the rather vague issue of the way the two companies deal with those from Japan. No specific accusations appear to have been made or, at least, none have been made public.

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Japan isn't the first to look into Apple and Google in this regard and it's highly unlikely to be the last. The EU is currently looking into whether Apple Pay is an issue, for example.

Regardless of how local authorities see it, the iPhone 12 is arguably the best phone on the market for most people right now. Be sure to check our list of the best iPhone 12 deals before making a purchase.