UK Probes Apple And Google's Control Over Web Browsing

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The U.K. Government's Competition and Markets Authority or CMA has initiated an investigation into tech majors Apple and Google's duopoly on mobile ecosystems.

The authority said it will conduct a fuller investigation into the way that Apple and Google dominate the mobile browser market and how Apple restricts cloud gaming through its App Store.

The probe, which was launched after receiving widespread support for its earlier published proposals, aims to support UK tech and consumers.

According to CMA, the market investigation will consider various concerns as well as whether new rules are needed to drive better outcomes. It will improve competition and lead to greater choice for consumers and better-quality products.

In a statement, the agency noted that its Mobile Ecosystem Market Study report had found that Apple and Google have an effective control on mobile ecosystems, which allows them to exercise a stranglehold over operating systems, app stores and web browsers on mobile devices.

The CMA noted that Google and Apple powered 97% of all mobile web browsing that took place in the U.K. In 2021. Any restrictions on these browser engines can have a major impact on users' experiences, it noted.

In the country, there are already more than 800,000 users of cloud gaming services Computer games, but restrictions on their distribution on mobile devices could hamper growth in this sector, meaning UK gamers miss out.

The authority had consulted on launching a market investigation alongside its Mobile Ecosystem Market Study report, and its responses now reveal substantial support for a detailed investigation from browser vendors, web developers, and cloud gaming service providers. According to them, the status quo is harming their businesses, holding back innovation, and adding unnecessary costs.

Web developers have also complained that Apple's restrictions lead to added costs and frustration as they have to deal with bugs and glitches when building web pages. They have no choice but to create bespoke mobile apps when a website might be sufficient.

According to CMA, these restrictions limit choice and may make it more difficult to bring innovative new apps to the hands of UK consumers.

Sarah Cardell, interim Chief Executive of the CMA, said, "Many UK businesses and web developers tell us they feel that they are being held back by restrictions set by Apple and Google. … 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."

Meanwhile, Apple and Google have argued that restrictions are needed to protect users.

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