After examining Google and Apple’s “duopoly” for a year, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has decided that they “hold all the cards” in the mobile phone market.
In a statement, the British agency said: “The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is consulting on the launch of a market investigation into Apple and Google’s market power in mobile browsers and Apple’s restrictions on cloud gaming through its App Store.”
“In parallel, it is also taking enforcement action against Google in relation to its app store payment practices,” CMA added.
After a year of research, the CMA has found that the tech behemoths have an “effective duopoly” on mobile ecosystems.
It should be noted that Apple and Google’s browser engines are responsible for 97% of all mobile web browsing in the UK. iPhones and Android smartphones often come pre-installed with Safari and Chrome, giving their browsers an early lead.
Furthermore, Apple mandates developers to use its WebKit engine to surf the web in their iOS and iPadOS apps. According to the CMA, this reduces Apple’s incentives to invest in Safari.
Apple also has controls in place that prevent cloud gaming apps from being downloaded from its App Store, according to the CMA. If they wish to be featured, cloud gaming services would have to submit each playable game individually for evaluation and approval. The business subsequently made an exception, but only to allow services like Xbox Cloud Gaming to be accessed via a browser on iOS devices.
The CMA stated in its announcement that the lack of intervention would allow the digital behemoths to preserve and even expand their control over mobile browsers, operating systems, and app marketplaces. Their duopoly might hinder competition and reduce incentives for individuals and other businesses to develop new items and technologies for those markets.
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “We have always been clear that we will maximise the use of our current tools while we await legislation for the new digital regime.”
“Today’s announcements – alongside the 8 cases currently open against major players in the tech industry, ranging from tackling fake reviews to addressing problems in online advertising – are proof of that in action,” Coscelli further added.
However, it is not only the UK but also regulators and government officials from all over the world that have been closely scrutinising tech companies amid potential anti-competitive concerns.
Last year, the European Commission accused Apple of distorting competition in the music streaming industry by imposing stringent App Store regulations that force developers to utilise the company’s in-app payment mechanism and bar them from telling customers of other purchasing options.
The European Union last year launched a formal antitrust inquiry into charges that Google is abusing its dominant position in the advertising-technology sector, the most comprehensive probe yet into that aspect of the company’s operations.