UK to investigate Google, Apple’s browser dominance

The UK’s competition watchdog said it will look at Apple Inc’s and Google’s mobile browser market dominance, as well as the iPhone maker’s limits on cloud gaming through its app store.

On Friday, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it was launching enforcement action against Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., for its app store payment methods.

According to the report, the two tech giants have a “effective duopoly” over mobile ecosystems, giving them a stronghold on operating systems, app stores, and mobile web browsers.

Following the release of a research on mobile ecosystems, CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli stated, “When it comes to how consumers use mobile phones, Apple and Google hold all the cards.”

“As brilliant as many of their services and products are, their strong hold on mobile ecosystems allows them to block out rivals, restricting choice and dragging back the British tech sector.”

It claimed that Apple’s or Google’s browser engines powered 97 percent of all mobile web browsing in the UK last year, and that Apple had also blocked alternatives to its own browser on iPhone.

The CMA expressed worry that this would significantly limit competing browsers’ ability to differentiate themselves from Apple’s Safari, for example, in terms of speed and functionality.

Apple said in a statement that its ecosystem had “produced a secure and trustworthy experience people adore, as well as a terrific financial opportunity for developers.”

“We respectfully disagree with a number of conclusions reached in the report,” a spokesperson said, “which discount our investments in innovation, privacy, and user performance — all of which contribute to why users love iPhone and iPad and create a level playing field for small developers to compete on a trusted platform.”

“We will continue to work constructively with the CMA to explain how our strategy encourages competition and choice while always protecting consumers’ privacy and security.”

Google claims that smartphones running on its Android operating system give users and companies more options than any other mobile platform, and that its Google Play app store has helped millions of apps get started.

A Google representative stated, “We continually assess how we can best serve developers and have moved fast to CMA comments in the past.”

“We will analyze the findings and continue to work with the CMA,” said the company.

The regulator is also concerned that Apple may stifle the growth of cloud gaming services, which allow high-quality games to be streamed rather than downloaded separately.

“By stifling this industry’s growth, Apple risks depriving mobile consumers of the full benefits of cloud gaming,” it warned.

The CMA said its proposed probe would help it better understand its concerns and potentially lead to legally enforceable directives forcing Apple and Google to adjust their practices.

On the 22nd of July, the public consultation on the planned market inquiry reference will end.

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