UK CMA launches investigation into Google and Apple’s “duopoly” over mobile market

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The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an in-depth investigation into Apple and Google regarding the companies’ dominance over the mobile market, it has been confirmed.

Back in June, it was revealed that a year-long study of the two firms found the tech giants essentially had a “duopoly” over mobile ecosystems, notably in internet browsers and cloud gaming.

In a statement at the time, the CMA claimed that Apple had “blocked the emergence of cloud gaming services on its App Store”.

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“Gaming apps are a key source of revenue for Apple and cloud gaming could pose a real threat to Apple’s strong position in app distribution,” it continued. “By preventing this sector from growing, Apple risks causing mobiles users to miss out on the full benefits of cloud gaming.”

The CMA said it planned to investigate the cloud gaming market further, having heard complaints from UK businesses about mobile-related restrictions.

Apple’s App Store CREDIT: B Christopher/Alamy

The watchdog explained that it may make legally binding orders compelling Google and Apple to change their business practices. In 2021, 97 per cent of all mobile web browsing in the UK occurred on browsers powered by either Apple’s or Google’s browsers.

As Video Games Chronicle reports, the CMA officially launched the probe yesterday (November 22).

“Computer games are a multi-billion pound industry in the UK, played by millions of people,” a new GOV.UK press release reads.

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“There are already more than 800,000 users of cloud gaming services in the UK but restrictions on their distribution on mobile devices could hamper growth in this sector, meaning UK gamers miss out.”

It adds: “Responses to the consultation, which have been published today, reveal substantial support for a fuller investigation into the way that Apple and Google dominate the mobile browser market and how Apple restricts cloud gaming through its App Store.

“Many of those came from browser vendors, web developers, and cloud gaming service providers who say that the status quo is harming their businesses, holding back innovation, and adding unnecessary costs.”

google credit alamy
Google. CREDIT: Alamy

Sarah Cardell, interim Chief Executive of the CMA, said that 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”.

“Many UK businesses and web developers tell us they feel that they are being held back by restrictions set by Apple and Google,” Cardell went on.

“When the new Digital Markets regime is in place, it’s likely to address these sorts of issues. In the meantime, we are using our existing powers to tackle problems where we can. We plan to investigate whether the concerns we have heard are justified and, if so, identify steps to improve competition and innovation in these sectors.”

You can read the new report in full here.

Meanwhile, Microsoft recently detailed plans to build its own “next-generation game store” on mobile platforms.

The company outlined its plans in a regulatory filing published last month (October 11) with the CMA, which is investigating Microsoft’s controversial proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.