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What you need to know

  • The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its interim report in connection with its market study into mobile ecosystems.
  • The report claims consumers are losing out because of Google and Apple's duopoly.
  • A final report on mobile ecosystems is expected to be released by the CMA in June 2022.

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on December 14 published its interim report on mobile ecosystems, expressing concern over the "vice-like grip" that Google and Apple have over mobile devices.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said in a statement:

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.

The report has provisionally found that the two companies have created "largely self-contained ecosystems" by leveraging their market dominance. This has made it almost impossible for other companies to enter and compete with them. While Apple doesn't allow any alternative app stores on iOS, Google has agreements with device manufacturers that "encourage the pre-installation" of Play Store and Chrome on the best Android phones.

Developers are also made to comply with Google and Apple's rules to be able to access their app stores and pay up to 30% commissions on purchases. Both Google and Apple have argued that the rules are in place to ensure the security of its users. The CMA is concerned that the restrictions favor their own services and also severely limit choice for consumers.

The CMA's report sets out a bunch of actions that could be taken to encourage competition in the mobile ecosystem and give consumers more choice. These include enabling users to easily switch between iOS and Android phones without losing their data, making it easier to choose alternatives for services like browsers, enabling users to install apps through methods other than the App Store or Play Store, including "web apps." The report also suggests users should be allowed to make in-app payments through alternative billing systems.

The CMA expects to issue its final report on mobile ecosystems in June next year.