Google, Apple’s mobile duopoly likely to be probed by UK regulator

(IANS) After examining Google and Apple’s “duopoly” for a year, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has decided that they “hold all the cards” in the mobile phone market.

According to Engadget, it is now consulting on the launch of a market investigation into the tech giants’ market power in mobile browsers, as well as into Apple’s cloud gaming restrictions.

In addition, the CMA has launched a separate investigation into Google’s Play Store rules, the one that requires certain app developers to use the tech giant’s payment system for in-app purchases, in particular.

The CMA has concluded after its year-long study that the tech giants do indeed exhibit an “effective duopoly” on mobile ecosystems, the report said.

A total of 97 per cent of all mobile web browsing in the UK is powered by Apple’s and Google’s browser engines. iPhones and Android devices typically come with Safari and Chrome pre-installed, which means their browsers have the advantage from the start.

Further, Apple requires developers to make sure their iOS and iPadOS apps are using its WebKit engine to browse the web. That limits the incentives Apple may have to invest in Safari, the CMA said.

The agency also pointed out that Apple enforces policies that prevent cloud gaming apps from being available to download from its App Store.

Under its rules, cloud gaming services would have to individually submit each playable game for review and approval if they want to be listed. The company eventually carved out an exception, but only to make services like Xbox Cloud Gaming available on iOS devices through a browser.

In its announcement, the CMA explained that the lack of intervention would allow the tech giants to maintain and even strengthen their hold not just over mobile browsers, but also over mobile operating systems and app stores.

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