Apple, Google Duopoly Limits Competition And Choice: UK Regulator

Tech giants Apple Inc. and Google are exercising a “vise-like grip” over how one uses mobile devices, Britain’s antitrust regulator said.

According to the Competition and Markets Authority or CMA, the companies should be investigated for their duopoly of the mobile phone sector as it limits competition and choice.

In its interim nonbinding report into competition in the tech industry, the regulator added that it was assessing whether to try to loosen their alleged control over smartphone ecosystems.

In its statement, the CMA noted that a probe was launched earlier this year over concerns that Apple and Google have too much control over operating systems, app stores, and web browsers that together form their “ecosystems.” As a result, it is extremely difficult for any other firm to enter and compete meaningfully with a new system.

A mobile device buyer essentially enters either Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android ecosystem, and the companies could control how online content, such as mobile apps and websites, is provided to users.

They also provide their own services too. Apple does not allow any other app store than its own on iPhones and iPads, and its browser Safari comes pre-installed on those. Google’s browser, Chrome, and app store also come pre-installed on most Android devices.

According to the agency, more than half of all smartphones in use in 2020 were Apple iPhones, while the rest were all using a version of the Android operating system. Further, Apple’s and Google’s browsers account for 90 percent of browser usage on mobile devices in the UK.

The CMA is concerned that this could lead to people facing higher prices than they would in a more competitive market.

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA said, “Any intervention must tackle the firms’ substantial market power across the key areas of operating systems, app stores and browsers. We think that the best way to do this is through the Digital Markets Unit when it receives powers from government.”

The CMA is consulting on its initial findings and awaits responses by February 7, 2022. It will be continuing with the second half of the study and expects to issue a final report in June 2022.

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