EU Wants Answers From Mobile App Developers

The European Union Commission is calling on mobile application developers to provide "very concrete answers" to concerns raised by EU citizens and national consumer organizations about the use of mobile apps.

The issues span from misrepresenting free content, specifically games, to payment processes and purchases debited through default settings without consumer consent. The commission also wants companies to provide an email address so that consumers can contact them in case of queries or complaints.

"Europe's app industry has enormous potential, both to generate jobs and growth, and to improve our daily lives through innovative technology," said Vice President Viviane Reding, the EU Justice Commissioner, in a statement. "For the sector to deliver on its potential consumers must have confidence in new products. Misleading consumers is clearly the wrong business model and also goes against the spirit of EU rules on consumer protection."

Trust will play a major role in the development of the app industry. McKinsey & Company furthered analysis that began three years ago in the United States and Europe that measured the benefits consumers gain through tweeting, sharing, and searching the Web for information.

The global management consulting firm estimated the amount consumers would agree to pay for each service and then aggregated the benefits. The total came to €130 billion. In 2013 that amount nearly doubled to €250 billion -- about $345 billion in today's market, as a result of smartphones and tablets. Mobile use drove most of the increase, but trust in brands also plays an important role.

This time around the firm estimated the value of consumer trust in brands. "This trust generates a €50 billion surplus across both wired and wireless use. Leading Web-service providers such as Google (including YouTube), Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Twitter capture nearly half of the trust surplus," per the analysis. Consumers access some of these services through apps and others through the mobile Web.

People use mobile apps and Web sites differently, according to a study from ExactTarget. They tend to use apps more often to access information about weather and social sites, except for Twitter. Some 98% prefer to use an app to access weather information. Between 86% and 97% prefer apps to access social sites Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, and the coupon service Groupon. Between 26% and 60% use the mobile Web more often to access entertainment and news sites like YouTube, Yahoo, CNN, Amazon, and, yes, Twitter.

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