UK watchdog investigates Apple and Google’s dominance of mobile phone systems

Britain’s competition watchdog said it would investigate whether Apple and Google’s dominance of mobile phone operating systems, app stores and web browsers hurt consumers, launching its latest probe into the tech giants.

The Competition and Markets Authority said it would undertake a “market study” into the matter to see whether the pair’s effective duopoly was stifling competition and ripping off consumers, or hurting businesses like app developers.

Governments around the world are looking at strengthening the regulation of U.S. tech giants that have become even more powerful during the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are multiple investigations globally into their market positions including in the United States and the European Union.

Britain is setting up a dedicated unit within the CMA to keep the tech giants in check and encourage digital competition but said it needed to start work probing iPhone maker Apple and the Google-powered Android system as soon as possible.

The CMA said the new study into mobile ecosystems would be broader than some of the other competition probes it already has into Apple’s App Store and Google’s Privacy Sandbox.

Last year, the CMA concluded an investigation into digital advertising, concluding that Google and Facebook have developed unassailable market positions, with the two accounting for nearly 80% of UK’s digital advertising spend. It recommended regulatory changes as a result.