UK watchdog to investigate possible Apple and Google mobile browser duopoly

The UK’s Competition and Market Authority will now investigate whether Apple and Google have an “effective” duopoly on the mobile ecosystem that “allows them to exercise a stranglehold over operating systems, app stores, and web browsers on mobile devices.”

This investigation is based on the Mobile Ecosystem Market Study report. According to the UK’s watchdog, 97% of all mobile web browsing in Great Britain in 2021 happened on browsers powered by either Apple’s or Google’s browser engine, meaning that “any restrictions on these engines can have a major impact on users’ experiences.”

Currently, there are more than 800,000 users of cloud gaming services in the UK. Based on the consultation of the CMA survey with browser vendors, web developers, and cloud gaming service providers, Apple and Google duopoly are “harming their businesses, holding back innovation, and adding unnecessary costs.”

For example, web developers have complained that Apple’s restrictions lead to added costs and frustration as they have to deal with bugs and glitches when building web pages and have no choice but to “create bespoke mobile apps when a website might be sufficient.”

The CMA believes that, ultimately, these restrictions limit choice and may make it more difficult to bring innovative new apps to the hands of UK consumers. Apple and Google say that restrictions are needed to protect users.

This investigation will take up to 18 months. Sarah Cardell, Interim Chief Executive of the CMA, said the watchdog wants “to make sure that UK consumers get the best new mobile data services and that UK developers can invest in innovative new apps.”

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To MacRumors, an Apple spokesperson gave the following statement:

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

This is far from being the first – or last – an investigation into Apple’s and Google’s monopoly/duopoly regarding apps, app stores, third-party payment, or browse engines.

BGR will report once we hear the Competition and Market Authority’s final thoughts.

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