Mobile Unlimited: The influence of mobile on the Australian competition outlook

Published On 02/02/2016 | By David Crino | Consumer protection, Enforcement, Reform

KWM has this week published an exciting round-up of the Mobile World Congress held in Shanghai in January 2016.

It provides insight into a number of issues currently affecting and shaping the mobile industry, including:

  1. The future of mobile and 5G technology – its role in developing economies and driving the adoption of new behaviours
  2. Challenges in making the Internet of Things (IoT) a reality, and the need for partnership
  3. The mobile ecosystem and its regulatory considerations and challenges
  4. The rise of mCommerce and building trust through mobile identity solutions
  5. eHealth and smart cities – exploring exciting new technologies and their role in driving transformation.

From a competition perspective, there are a number of aspects that are of particular interest:

  1. Mobile is increasingly becoming the platform on which commerce is transacted, with more searches now conducted by mobile than any other platform and mobile expected to account for 21% of e-commerce by 2018.  Unsurprisingly then, mobile advertising is predicted to make up over 60% of the US$600 billion global advertising spend by 2018.  This will present a growing challenge for businesses in ensuring that their mobile advertising and mobile commerce platforms are compliant with consumer protection provisions, particularly in an increasingly global marketplace.  In the ACCC’s recent action against Virgin Australia and Jetstar in respect of drip pricing, the court separately analysed the process for purchasing tickets on the mobile website against the standard website, and in Virgin’s case only found contraventions established in respect of its mobile website.
  2. As a result of the increasingly global marketplace for goods and services being delivered via mobile, more international collaboration will be needed to ensure greater harmonisation of regulation and enforcement, which will in turn promote further international growth and investment.  The ACCC already has cooperation treaties and agreements in place with 12 countries, most recently China and Japan, plus the OECD and the EC.
  3. Mobile technology is also a powerful tool for fostering innovation, and has facilitated the growth of services such as Uber, Airbnb and Apple Wallet that are disrupting traditional forms of competition.  More rapid innovation and change, and in particular the “sharing economy” can provide competition to established businesses to the benefit of consumers, and governments will be increasingly keen to be seen as facilitators of such innovation.  Recently, NSW and the ACT have moved to legalise Uber, and the Harper Review has recommended the review of regulations at all levels of government to ensure that unnecessary restrictions on competition are removed unless they can be justified on public interest grounds (recommendation 8), which the Federal Government has supported.

Please refer to the full report for more about the changes happening in this area.

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About The Author

is a solicitor in the competition litigation practice of King & Wood Mallesons in Sydney.

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