Apple, Google Face Mobile Ecosystem Investigation By CMA

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UK watchdog the CMA launches investigation of smartphone giants Apple and Google, over their respective mobile ecosystems

The UK competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has begun an investigation into the mobile ecosystem of Apple and Google.

The watchdog announced the investigation because of concerns Apple and Google have market power which is harming users and other businesses.

It has been a busy week so far for the CMA. Also on Tuesday the CMA confirmed it is to take a leading role in Google’s efforts to remove third-party cookies on Chrome.

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Mobile ecosystem

The CMA said it was “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.”

Specifically, the CMA is looking into whether the two firms’ control over mobile ecosystems is stifling competition across a range of digital markets.

The CMA said it was 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.

“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 of the CMA.

“We’re looking into whether this could be creating problems for consumers and the businesses that want to reach people through their phones,” said Coscelli. “Our ongoing work into big tech 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,” said Coscelli.

The CMA is seeking views from the industry by 26 July and is keen to hear from app developers in particular.

Google told the BBC its Android ecosystem generates £2.8bn in revenue for UK developers, and supports 240,000 jobs. It also said it had made major changes to its terms based on discussions with regulators.

In March the CMA said that it had launched an investigation into Apple following complaints that its terms and conditions for app developers are unfair and anti-competitive.