Competition regulator launches investigation into Apple and Google ‘duopoly’

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The UK’s competition watchdog is about to launch a full investigation into Apple and Google’s market dominance in mobile services.

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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said a consultation had found substantial industry concerns about the firms’ dominance of mobile web browsers and that Apple ban cloud gaming on its App Store.

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The findings come after the CMA published a preliminary report earlier this year that said the two companies have an effective monopoly on the mobile ecosystem that allows them to control operating systems, app stores and web browsers on mobile devices. enables control.

The CMA said browser vendors, web developers and cloud gaming service providers told it the current system was hurting their businesses, stifling innovation and driving up unnecessary costs.

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Concerns have been raised about the level of control Apple and Google exercise, first over apps that appear on their respective App Stores and, ultimately, over their popular mobile devices, which also dominate the phone and tablet market. are capable.

We want to make sure UK consumers have access to the best new mobile data services and that UK developers can invest in innovative new apps

Both Apple and Google have argued that these controls and restrictions on developers are in place to better protect users.

The CMA said its investigation will now consider these points and whether new regulations are needed to deliver better outcomes for users in the UK.

“We want to make sure UK consumers get the best new mobile data services and UK developers can invest in innovative new apps,” said CMA Interim Chief Executive Sarah Cardell.

“Many UK businesses and web developers tell us they feel they are being held back by restrictions put in place by Apple and Google.

“These types of issues are likely to be resolved when the new digital market regime is in place.

“In the meantime, we are using our existing powers to deal with the problems where we can.

“We plan to investigate whether the concerns we have heard are justified and, if so, identify steps to improve competition and innovation in these areas.”

In response, a Google spokesperson said: “Android (Google’s mobile operating system) gives people more choices of apps and app stores than any other mobile platform.

“It enables developers to choose the browser engine they want and has been the launchpad for millions of apps.

“We are committed to building thriving, open platforms that empower consumers and help developers build successful businesses.”

Apple said: “Apple believes in vibrant and competitive markets where innovation can flourish.

Through the App Store, we’ve helped millions of developers turn their best ideas into world-changing apps, fueling an app economy that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in the UK alone.

“We will continue to engage constructively with the Competition and Markets Authority to explain how our approach promotes competition and choice, whilst ensuring that the privacy and security of consumers is always protected.”

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