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Apple and Google face UK investigation over mobile browser duopoly

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Following a year-long investigation that indicated the two corporations had a tight grip on the industry, the UK competition authority is launching an investigation into Apple and Google’s market clout in phone browsers and cloud gaming.


The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is seeking feedback on opening a market probe that would give it broad powers to address Google and Apple’s monopoly in mobile phone systems. The CMA might use a market investigation to intervene in Apple and Google’s provision of mobile browsers and distribution of cloud gaming services via their app stores and devices.


The regulator has decided after a year of investigation that Apple and Google had an effective duopoly on mobile ecosystems, allowing them to exert an unfair grip on these markets, which include operating systems, app stores, and mobile web browsers. 


According to the CMA, the organization has examined where it may take rapid targeted action using its existing authorities and is currently consulting on establishing a market investigation reference into mobile browsers and access to cloud gaming on mobile devices. The CMA is also conducting a competition law probe into Google’s regulations controlling app placement on its Play Store, namely the conditions governing in-app payments. Apple’s App Store terms and conditions are already the subject of a competition law inquiry, which was launched in March 2021.


In its final assessment, the CMA stated that Apple and Google were depriving consumers and web developers of innovation and choice, citing Apple’s prohibition on competing app stores on its devices and blocking other means to access services. Apple and Google, according to the CMA, are likely to retain, if not increase, their dominance in the market, further reducing competition and decreasing incentives for innovators if no action is taken.