Apple and Google are stifling mobile competition – CMA

Apple Google mobile competition

The UK’s competition regulator has said Apple and Google are using their “substantial” market power to stifle competition in the mobile ecosystem space.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that the tech giants had a “vice-like grip” over mobile operating systems, app stores and web browsers that makes it “extremely difficult” for rivals to enter the market and compete.

In its provisional findings from an investigation launched in June, the regulator also raised concerns that the lack of competition could be leading to higher prices for consumers.

“Apple and Google have developed a vice-like grip over how we use mobile phones and we’re concerned that it’s causing millions of people across the UK to lose out,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.

UKTN has approached Apple and Google for comment.

The report points to the rules that developers must comply with to be allowed on the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

Tech companies such as Epic Games and Spotify have raised complaints about the commission the app stores charge, which can be as high as 30%.

The two app stores have come under increasing global scrutiny, with South Korea passing legislation earlier this year to curb Apple and Google’s dominance.

Among the CMA’s recommendations for increasing competition are making it easier to install apps outside of Google and Apple’s respective app stores, making it easier to select an alternative web browser and give a choice to use different in-app payment systems.

The two tech giants could face find themselves facing stricter conditions if proposed competition rules pass into law.

It comes as part of a wider overhaul into the UK’s competition regime, which has seen the creation of a Digital Markets Unit to sit within the CMA.

Coscelli added: “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.”

Big Tech companies that meet certain criteria will face legally enforceable codes of conduct “to prevent them from exploiting their powerful positions”.

The CMA’s final report into Apple and Google’s mobile ecosystems will be published in June 2022.