UK plans to probe Apple and Google’s dominance in mobile browsers


The entrance to Google’s UK offices in London.

Olly Curtis | Edition of the future | via Getty Images

Britain’s competition watchdog said it plans to investigate Apple and Google’s mobile browser market dominance, as well as the iPhone maker’s restrictions on cloud gaming through its App Store.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said on Friday it was also taking enforcement action against Alphabet’s Google over its payment practices in the App Store.

He said the two tech giants had an “effective duopoly” on mobile ecosystems that gave them a stranglehold on operating systems, app stores and web browsers on mobile devices.

“When it comes to how people use mobile phones, Apple and Google hold all the cards,” CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said following the release of an ecosystems report. mobiles.

“As good as many of their services and products are, their strong grip on mobile ecosystems allows them to shut out competitors, holding back the UK tech sector and limiting choice.”

He said 97% of all mobile web browsing in Britain last year was powered by Apple’s or Google’s browser engine, and in addition Apple has banned alternatives to its own browser on iPhones.

The AMC said it was concerned that this would severely limit rival browsers’ potential to differentiate themselves from Apple’s Safari, for example on features such as speed and functionality.

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

“We respectfully disagree with a number of conclusions drawn in the report, which fail to take into account our investments in innovation, privacy and user performance – all of which contribute to why users love the app. ‘iPhone and iPad and create a level playing field for small developers on a trusted platform,’ a spokesperson said.

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

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

“We regularly review how best to 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 the CMA.”

The regulator also expressed concern 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 industry from growing, Apple risks robbing mobile users of all the benefits of cloud gaming,” he said.

The AMC said its proposed investigation would further assess its concerns and could result in legally binding orders requiring changes to Apple and Google’s practices.

The consultation on the proposed referral to the market investigation will close on July 22.


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