CMA launches market study about Apple and Google mobile ecosystems

June 15, 2021

The CMA has launched a new market study into Apple’s and Google’s mobile ecosystems over concerns their market power is harming users and other businesses. Among other options, market studies can make recommendations to government or other bodies, and issue guidance to businesses and consumers as needed.

The CMA is taking a closer look at whether what it says is Apple and Google’s effective duopoly over the supply of operating systems (iOS and Android), app stores (App Store and Play Store), and web browsers (Safari and Chrome), could be resulting in consumers losing out across a wide range of areas.

‘Mobile ecosystems’ refers to the collection of gateways through which consumers can access a variety of products, content and services, such as music, TV and video streaming, as well as fitness tracking, shopping and banking. These products also include other technology and devices such as smart speakers, smart watches, home security and lighting (which mobiles can connect to and control).

The CMA is looking into whether the two firms’ control over mobile ecosystems is stifling competition across a range of digital markets. The CMA is concerned this could lead to reduced innovation across the sector and consumers paying higher prices for devices and apps, or for other goods and services due to higher advertising prices.

The study will also examine any effects of the firms’ market power over other businesses – such as app developers – which rely on Apple or Google to market their products to customers via their phones.

This study is part of a broader programme of CMA work, which includes establishing a new pro-competition regulatory regime for digital markets through the Digital Markets Unit. As the CMA works with the UK government on the DMU, the CMA will continue to use its existing powers to their fullest extent to examine and protect competition in these areas.

The CMA has been investigating Apple’s App Store and Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals over competition concerns. While both examine issues falling within the scope of this study, the CMA’s work into mobile ecosystems is much broader. The CMA says that it will adopt a joined-up approach across all these related cases, with the aim of ensuring the best outcomes for consumers and other businesses.

The CMA is consulting on the statement of scope until 26 July and the CMA is also keen to hear from app developers by the same deadline. The CMA has 12 months to conclude the study.