UK to investigate Apple and Google’s ‘stranglehold’ over web browsing

UK to investigate Apple and Google's 'stranglehold' over web browsing



The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority launched an investigation Tuesday into Apple and Google‘s control of the mobile browser market.

The authority will explore the companies’ “stranglehold” over browsing, as well as Apple’s control over cloud gaming through the App Store, it said in a release. The agency said Google and Apple powered 97% of all web browsing that took place in the U.K. in 2021.

Web developers, cloud gaming service providers and browser vendors have offered “substantial support” for the investigation, according to the results of a June consultation released by the authority. They claim the status quo limits innovation and has been adding “unnecessary costs” to their businesses.

Developers also complained that Apple’s restrictions make it difficult to build innovative new apps for U.K. consumers, and that they are forced to contend with glitches and bugs while building webpages.

Sarah Cardell, interim chief executive of the CMA, said in the release that the authority plans to use its powers to tackle problems where it can.

“Many U.K. businesses and web developers tell us they feel that they are being held back by restrictions set by Apple and Google,” she said. “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.”

Google is committed to building “thriving, open platforms” that help “empower consumers” and encourage developers to create successful businesses, a spokesperson told CNBC.

“Android gives people a greater choice of apps and app stores than any other mobile platform. It also enables developers to choose the browser engine they want, and has been the launchpad for millions of apps,” the representative said.

An Apple spokesperson told CNBC in a statement that the company believes in “vibrant and competitive markets where innovation can thrive.”

“Through the App Store, we’ve helped millions of developers turn their brightest ideas into apps that change the world, spurring an app economy that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in the UK alone,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to engage constructively with the Competition and Markets Authority to explain how our approach promotes competition and choice, while ensuring consumers’ privacy and security are always protected.”



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