Apple, Google’s mobile browser dominance will be investigated, UK watchdog CMA says

Britain’s competition watchdog said it plans to examine the market dominance of mobile browsers from Apple and Google, as well as the iPhone maker’s ban on cloud gaming through its App Store.

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said on Friday that it is also taking enforcement action against alphabetical Google on its App Store payment practices.

It said the two tech giants had an “effective monopoly” over the mobile ecosystem, which gave them a firm grip on the operating system, app store and web browser on mobile devices.

“Apple and Google all hold cards when it comes to how people use mobile phones,” CMA chief executive Andrea Coselli said after the publication of a report on mobile ecosystems.

“As good as many of their services and products are, their strong grip on the mobile ecosystem allows them to shut down competitors, hold back the British tech sector, and limit the likes.”

It said that 97 per cent of all mobile web browsing in the UK last year was driven by either Apple either of google browser engine, and in addition Apple banned its own browser options iPhone,

The CMA said it was concerned that the ability for rival browsers to differentiate itself from Apple’s Safari was limited, for example on features such as speed and functionality.

Apple said in a statement that it has created “a secure and reliable experience users love and a great business opportunity for developers” through its ecosystem.

“We respectfully disagree with many of the conclusions reached in the report, which discount our investments in innovation, privacy and user performance – all of which contribute to why users love the iPhone and iPad and help smaller developers compete for the iPhone and iPad.” to create a level playing field for a credible platform,” a spokesperson said.

“We will continue to engage constructively with CMA to explain how our approach fosters competition and choice, while ensuring that consumers’ privacy and security are always protected.”

Google said smartphones using its Android operating system give people and businesses more options than any other mobile platform, and its Google Play app store has been the launchpad for millions of apps.

“We regularly review how we can best support developers and have responded quickly to CMA feedback in the past,” a Google spokesperson said.

“We will review the report and continue to engage with CMA.”

The regulator said it is also concerned that Apple is blocking the emergence of cloud gaming services, which allow high-quality games to be streamed rather than downloaded individually.

“By preventing this sector from growing, Apple risks missing out on the full benefits of cloud gaming to mobile users,” it said.

The CMA said its proposed investigation would further assess its concerns and could result in legally binding orders requiring changes to the practices of Apple and Google.

The consultation on the proposed market test reference will conclude on July 22.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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