UK regulatory body, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced the launch of a formal investigation of Apple and Google’s restrictions on cloud gaming and web browsing on mobile.
Previously, CMA published a report on the mobile ecosystem market in the UK which found that the “duopoly” of Apple and Google limited competition and choice by controlling their mobile operating systems, app stores, and web browsers.
Developers support CMA proposal to investigate Apple and Google who are “holding back innovation”
CMA explained that a consultation on initiating a “fuller investigation” got “substantial support” from web developers, browser vendors, and cloud gaming service providers who said that the status quo of the tech giants was “harming their businesses, holding back innovation, and adding unnecessary costs.”
Web developers have complained that Apple’s restrictions, combined with suggested underinvestment in its browser technology, lead to added costs and frustration as they have to deal with bugs and glitches when building web pages, and have no choice but to create bespoke mobile apps when a website might be sufficient.
It is argued that restrictions imposed by both tech companies limit choice and might make it difficult for UK consumers to get their hands on innovative new apps.
Although the report does not define the perimeter of the investigation, it will likely be centered around Apple App Store’s control over app distribution and payment system on iOS and its review process which the company says are digital barriers to protect users’ privacy and ensure their safety. Google has similar rules on Android but not as strict as on iOS.
Therefore, CMA states that it will take the companies’ arguments and stakeholders’ complaints into consideration to determine if new laws are needed to achieve better outcomes. Sarah Cardell, interim Chief Executive of the CMA, said:
We want 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. 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.