This is another example of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) increasingly baring its teeth against Silicon Valley behemoths.
The regulator instigated the investigation after a market study found the tech giants had “an effective duopoly on mobile ecosystems,” according to a government statement.
Sarah Cardell, interim chief executive at the CMA, said UK businesses and web developers felt “held back by restrictions set Apple and Google.”
Echoing last year’s legal battle between Apple and Fortnite developer Epic Games, the CMA said that the iPhone maker and Google effectively controlled the industry by exercising their stranglehold of operating systems, app stores and web browsers on mobile devices.
“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,” Cardell added.
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If the investigation is successful, the CMA can force Apple and Google make changes.
Critics of the two tech titans’ alleged duopoly of the gaming and mobile ecosystems have welcomed the probe.
“The power of choice should lie with the user – not the corporations, as this will encourage growth and innovation in the industry, resulting in a better user experience,” Gaël Duval, CEO of phone company Murena, which uses a version of Android with the tracking turned off, tells Verdict.
“Google and Apple lock all services into a vertical product integration which impedes and goes against fair competition for developers and gives consumers little to no control over their privacy.”
A Google spokesperson told Verdict Google remains committed to Android and its users.
“Android gives people a greater choice of apps and app stores than any other mobile platform,” the Google spokesperson said. “It also enables developers to choose the browser engine they want, and has been the launchpad for millions of apps.
“We’re committed to building thriving, open platforms that empower consumers and help developers build successful businesses.”
Apple and the CMA did not return requests for comment.
Apple and Google are not the only tech giants to be caught in the CMA’s crosshairs.
The regulator recently ordered Meta to tear up its already completed acquisition of Giphy, the animated image service, after a probe found that the deal would choke competition.
GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.