UK watchdog to investigate Apple and Google mobile ecosystems

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a market study into Apple and Google’s mobile ecosystems over concerns they have market power which is harming users.

The UK watchdog for competition is taking a closer look at whether the firms’ effective duopoly over the supply of operating systems (iOS and Android), app stores (App Store and Play Store), and web browsers (Safari and Chrome), could be resulting in consumers losing out across a wide range of areas.

The CMA said that ‘mobile ecosystems’ refers to the collection of gateways through which consumers can access a variety of products, content and services, such as music, TV and video streaming, as well as fitness tracking, shopping and banking.

These products also include other technology and devices such as smart speakers, smart watches, home security and lighting, which mobiles can connect to and control.

The authority is exploring whether the technology giants’ control over mobile ecosystems is stifling competition across a range of digital markets.

It is concerned this could lead to reduced innovation across the sector and consumers paying higher prices for devices and apps, or for other goods and services due to higher advertising prices.

The study will also examine any effects of the firms’ market power over other businesses – such as app developers – which rely on Apple or Google to market their products to customers via their phones.

“Apple and Google control the major gateways through which people download apps or browse the web on their mobiles – whether they want to shop, play games, stream music or watch TV,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive, CMA. “We’re looking into whether this could be creating problems for consumers and the businesses that want to reach people through their phones.
Coscelli added: “Our ongoing work into BigTech has already uncovered some worrying trends and we know consumers and businesses could be harmed if they go unchecked. That’s why we’re pressing on with launching this study now, while we are setting up the new Digital Markets Unit, so we can hit the ground running by using the results of this work to shape future plans.”

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