Earlier this year, the UK Competition and Marketing Authority (CMA) launched a study to examine Apple’s and Google’s strongholds on operating systems, app stores and web browsers. Now the authority reports its findings suggesting the two companies have a duopoly in the market.
In its preliminary report, the antitrust watchdog believes that Apple and Google have a “vice-like grip” on how people in the UK use their mobile phones, causing millions of them to “lose out.”
It says it is “concerned that this will lead to less competition and meaningful choices for customers. People also seem to be missing out on the full benefits of innovative new products and services – such as so-called ‘web apps’ and new ways of play games through cloud services on iOS devices. “
The authority also expresses concern that people could pay higher prices for iPhones, app subscriptions and in-app purchases (IAPs) than they would pay in a more competitive market. Andrea Coscelli, CEO of CMA, says:
“Apple and Google have developed a vise-like grip on how we use mobile phones and we are concerned that it will cause millions of people across the UK to lose weight. Most people know that Apple and Google are the main players when it comes to But it can be easy to forget that they also set all the rules – from deciding which apps are available in their app stores to making it difficult for us to switch to alternative browsers on our This control can limit innovation and choice and lead to higher prices – none of which is good news for users. ”
The CMA has so far found Apple and Google able to leverage their market duopoly to create independent ecosystems, making it “extremely difficult for any other company to enter and compete meaningfully with a new system.”
To address the findings and the associated concerns, the report has outlined the following remedial measures that can be taken:
- Makes it easier for users to switch between iOS and Android when switching phones so they do not lose functionality or data.
- Makes it easier to install PWAs and apps from third-party sources in addition to the App Store and Play Store.
- Let all apps give users options on how they prefer to pay for IAPs, subscriptions, etc., rather than being tied to using Apple or Google’s proprietary billing systems.
- Let users easily choose alternatives to Google and Apple’s default browsers and set their choice as the new default.
While some of these suggestions are already halfway implemented on Android, Apple’s iOS has a long way to go. Some of these points have also been at the heart of controversial litigation. For example, the third proposal is one of the points that Apple vs. The Epic Games case is about.
Do you think the iPhone maker and search giant is on its way out of the frying pan and into the proverbial bonfire? Is it likely that this report will set in motion lawsuits against companies in the UK alleging antitrust and anti-competitive behavior? Tell us in the comments below.