Google and Apple could face a UK probe over their dominance of mobile browsers

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what you need to know

  • The UK competition watchdog plans to launch an investigation into Google and Apple’s dominance of mobile browsers.
  • Without regulatory intervention, the Competition and Markets Authority fears that both companies will tighten their stranglehold on the sector.
  • The investigation also targets Apple’s cloud gaming restrictions via the App Store.

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is considering launching an inquiry into Google and Apple’s dominance of mobile browsers, citing concerns that both tech giants have a “duopoly” in the sector.

According to the CMA, both companies have built a “duopoly on mobile ecosystems that allows them to have a stranglehold on these markets,” referring to the Android and iOS operating systems, app stores, and mobile web browsers.

It is now advising to launch an investigation into the dominance of the duo. The consultation, which runs until July 22, comes just days after it launched an investigation into Google’s dominance in the digital ad-tech exchange.

The CMA wants to know whether action is needed to address potential competition concerns related to the strong control of Google and Apple in the mobile browser segment. There are also plans to investigate Apple’s cloud gaming restrictions via the App Store.

“Without intervention, both companies are likely to maintain and even increase their grip on the sector, further reducing competition and reducing incentives for innovators,” the CMA said (opens in new tab).

The planned investigation builds on regulators’ review of the companies’ dominance of the mobile technology market over the past year. Based on its assessment, the CMA has “identified a number of potential interventions in these ecosystems” and “assessed where it can take immediate targeted action with its current powers to address these issues.”

Android Central has reached out to Google and Apple for comment and will update this post when we receive feedback.

According to the CMA, Apple and Google have made it harder for smaller companies to compete in their respective mobile ecosystems.

“When it comes to how people use cell phones, Apple and Google have all the cards in their hands,” said Andrea Coscelli, executive director of the CMA. “As good as many of their services and products are, their powerful impact on mobile ecosystems allows them to foreclose on competitors, hold back the UK tech sector and limit choice.”

Both Google and Apple together hold a 90% share of the UK mobile browser market, with Chrome and Safari preinstalled on Android phones and iOS devices.

In the United States, legislators are working on two bills (opens in new tab) intends to curb Big Tech’s anti-competitive behavior. The American Choice and Innovation Act (AICO) and the Open App Markets Act will prevent tech giants from favoring their own services.

In the meantime, the CMA aims to “create legally binding orders that require changes to Apple’s and Google’s practices.”

It also examines Google’s payment practices in the app stores. The new Google Play Store billing policy requires developers to use the proprietary system for all in-app transactions. It didn’t sit well with several attorneys general, leading to a lawsuit against Google last year over allegations that Google holds an illegal monopoly on mobile app distribution.

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