The UK’s competition regulator has confirmed an investigation into Apple and Google’s mobile dominance

Earlier this year, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was consulting on a possible investigation into the dominance of Google and Apple in the mobile phone market. Now, the regulator has announced that it has received “broad support” for its proposals and has launched a market investigation into the two tech giants’ “duoply” in cloud gaming and mobile browsers.

“Many UK businesses and web developers tell us they feel they are being held back by restrictions imposed by Apple and Google,” the CMA’s interim chief executive, Sarah Cardell, said in a statement. “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.”

The CMA noted that Apple and Google have a “blockade” on mobile device operating systems, app stores and browsers. It said that in 2021 97 per cent of web browsing in the UK took place on Apple or Google’s browser engines, “so any restrictions on these engines could have a major impact on users’ experience.” It also noted that cloud gaming services count 800,000 UK users, “but limitations on their distribution could hamper the growth of the sector.”

Many of the responses to its previous consultation came from browser vendors, web developers and cloud gaming services, the CMA said. Developers complained about bugs and issues, especially on web pages, leaving them “no choice but to build bespoke mobile apps when a website would suffice.”

UK authorities have been a thorn in the side of tech companies of late. It recently forced Meta to sell Giphy after the former lost an appeal, is separately investigating Google for competition in advertising, and is eyeing Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. “Market investigations can lead to changes in companies’ behavior and restrictions, which improves competition and leads to greater consumer choice and better quality products,” it said of its latest findings.

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