The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) could launch a probe into Apple and Google’s dominance in mobile browsers, claiming the duo had established a stranglehold across the market.
In a statement, the CMA explained it was launching a consultation process with the view of an investigation, following a year-long study which found Google and Apple had an “effective duopoly on mobile ecosystems”.
This dominance allowed the tech giants to exercise a “stranglehold over these markets”, which includes operating systems, app stores and web browsers on mobile devices.
The CMA also stated it was looking into Apple’s restrictions on cloud gaming on its App Store, and separately launched enforcement action against Google in relation to its app store payment practices.
The watchdog explained while its report identified a range of potential interventions across the ecosystems, it had looked at where it could take immediate targeted action to the tackle the problems using its current powers.
By potentially launching an investigation, the CMA would be able to intervene on Apple and Google’s supply of mobile browsers and engines, and the distribution of cloud gaming services through the App Store on mobile devices.
All the cards
Among its findings, the CMA claimed Apple and Google use their mobile ecosystems to determine “the rules of the game” and make it difficult for rival businesses to compete.
In total, Apple and Google hold a 90 per cent market share of default mobile browsers pre-installed on smartphones in the UK.
With regards to cloud gaming, the regulator accused Apple of blocking the emergence of the platform on its App Store.
Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the CMA, said when it comes to how people use mobile phones, “Apple and Google hold all the cards”.
“As good as many of their services and products are, their strong grip on mobile ecosystems allows them to shut out competitors, holding back the British tech sector and limiting choice,” he said.
A CMA investigation into Apple’s app store conduct opened in March 2021 is ongoing.