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UK antitrust agency will investigate Apple & Google over gaming and mobile browsers

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority has concluded its investigation into Apple and Google's dominance in smartphones, but now says it's going to launch three further examinations.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has already been investigating what it calls Apple and Google's "vice-like" grip on the smartphone market, and Apple objected to its preliminary report. Now the final report has officially been published, and the regulator plans further investigations.

"The CMA's study into mobile ecosystems — ie operating systems, app stores and web browsers — has concluded that Apple and Google's duopoly means they have a stranglehold over these key gateways," says the CMA's summary briefing. "There are many potential interventions which could help unlock competition and protect millions of businesses and people reliant on their services."

"The CMA is taking targeted action now to tackle some of the many problems," it continues, "and the new pro-competition digital regime will have additional powers to oversee key digital markets like these."

"In addition to using our markets powers," says the summary, "we will also continue to use our competition law powers wherever possible to tackle concerns that we have identified."

Saying that it has looked at "where it can take immediate targeted action," the CMA has therefore announced another three investigations, covering:

  • Apple and Google's dominance over mobile browsing
  • Apple's alleged blocking the emergence of cloud gaming
  • Google's Play Store rules regarding access and in-app payments

"When it comes to how people use mobile phones, Apple and Google hold all the cards," said Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, in a statement. "As good as many of their services and products are, their strong grip on mobile ecosystems allows them to shut out competitors, holding back the British tech sector and limiting choice."

The summary briefing's reference to the additional powers and "new pro-competition digital regime," is not explained, but is likely to refer to the UK's Digital Markets Unit (DMU).

Announced in 2020, launched with 60 staff in 2021, it remains under the CMA's aegis while it continues to have no regulatory powers or authority at all.