UK competition watchdog investigating Apple and Google smartphone platform duopoly

Today, the UK’s competition watchdog (the Competition and Markets Authority) announced an official investigation into the mobile device ecosystem, citing Apple and Google’s effective duopoly.

The group will investigate dominance of iOS and Android and the control they wield over the App Store and Google Play Store, and Safari and Chrome.

In March, the CMA already announced a specific investigation into whether Apple’s App Store terms are unfairly favoring itself and hurting third-party developers.

The CMA said consumers may be losing out across a wide range of areas. The app stores were described as gateways to a variety of products including music, TV and video streaming, fitness services, shopping and banking. The impact on secondary products like smart speakers, smart watches, and smart home tech were also in the mix.

The study is looking for evidence of reduced innovation in these sectors because of Apple and Google’s behavior and market power. Results of the study will be published within a year.

“Apple and Google control the major gateways through which people download apps or browse the web on their mobiles – whether they want to shop, play games, stream music or watch TV. We’re looking into whether this could be creating problems for consumers and the businesses that want to reach people through their phones.

This is just the latest official body to announce investigations into Apple and Google’s possible anticompetitive practice, as ‘Big Tech’ becomes a focus for all policymakers around the world. One of the most high-profile judgements so far is a preliminary ruling from the European Commission that Apple’s mandated 30% cut of In-App Purchases unfairly diminished competition in music streaming.

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