The British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says that Apple and Google have unfairly “developed a vice” about how we use our smartphones and that “millions of people” are losing.
In addition to dominating the smartphone market, Apple and Google are also “setting all the rules,” the CMA said in a report released Tuesday. The two companies have been accused of limiting innovation and choice and raising smartphone prices.
Apple and Google have created ‘mostly standalone ecosystems’
The CMA is just one of many regulators around the world investigating Apple and Google for their smartphone practices. The investigation began earlier this year over concerns that the two technology giants have too much control over operating systems, application markets and search engines.
In its preliminary findings, the CMA found that Apple and Google are indeed “using their market power to create largely stand-alone ecosystems,” making it difficult for others to compete and stifle the smartphone experience for millions of users.
The CMA said:
When someone buys a mobile device, they essentially enter Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android ecosystem. As a result, Apple and Google can control how online content, such as mobile apps and websites, is provided to users. They can also tilt the terrain according to their own services.
‘Less competition and meaningful choice’
Apple, for example, does not allow the installation of third-party application markets on iPhones and iPads, the CMA notes. Both companies also pre-install their own web browsers on all devices (Apple also prevents third-party browser developers from using many of Safari’s integrated technologies).
The CMA said it was concerned that this “leads to less competition and meaningful choice for customers”. He also believes that people are missing out on “the full benefits of innovative new products and services,” such as web apps and new ways to play games via the cloud on iOS.
In addition, the CMA is worried that this “duopoly” could lead to higher prices – not only for smartphones, but also for subscriptions to mobile applications and in-app purchases.
CMA calls for intervention
“Apple and Google have developed a flaw in the way we use mobile phones and we are concerned that this is causing the loss of millions of people across the UK,” said Andrea Coscelli, CMA CEO, who believes intervention is needed to “address the significant market the strength of the company. “
Some of the changes proposed by the CMA to address this issue include:
- Makes it easy for users to switch between Android and iOS without losing functionality or data.
- Make it easy to install apps using methods other than the App Store or Google Play Store.
- Allow all developers to give users a choice of payment methods for in-app and subscription purchases.
- Make it easy for users to choose alternatives to Apple’s and Google’s own services, including web browsers.
Although Apple and Google are not now forced to make changes, the CMA has warned that, as things stand, both companies meet the criteria for “strategic market status” (SMS) in the UK New laws have been proposed to address SMS, although they are still in early status and are subject to consultation.
If the proposals become law, the Digital Markets Unit (DMA), which sits within the CMA, will eventually decide whether Apple and Google will receive SMS status. If they do, they will face “legally enforceable codes of conduct that will govern their behavior and prevent them from exploiting their powerful positions”.
The CMA has given Apple and Google until February 7, 2022, to respond to their initial findings. It is scheduled to release its final report next June. Meanwhile, he is conducting a deeper investigation in the App Store and Google Play Store due to competition concerns.
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