The UK competition watchdog provisionally found Apple and Google have a tight control over the mobile ecosystem, making it difficult for other players to enter and compete meaningfully in a number of sectors.
In an interim report on a study initiated in June, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) suggested Apple and Google have used their market dominance to create self-contained mobile ecosystems.
The regulator discovered both companies imposed rules for access to their app stores which some developers viewed as “overly restrictive”.
Noting while it is important to ensure security of apps, an argument which has been previously used by the two companies to defend the developer fees they collect, the CMA raised concerns “Apple and Google are making decisions on these grounds that favour their own services and limit meaningful choice, when other approaches are available”.
It also targeted Apple for not allowing alternative app stores and limiting the functionalities of browsers alternative to its own, while Google was found to encourage pre-installation of Play Store and Chrome.
“Apple and Google have developed a vice-like grip over how we use mobile phones and we’re concerned that it’s causing millions of people across the UK to lose out”, CMA chief Andrea Coscelli commented.
The CMA recommended Apple and Google introduce an option for easily switching between iOS and Android without losing functionality or data, alongside a possibility to install so-called “web apps” to enable downloads of apps outside the companies’ digital marketplaces.
It also called for choice to be given when users make in-app subscriptions and when browsing.
Consultations on its initial findings are open until 7 February 2022 and a final report is expected in June 2022.