The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a market investigation into cloud gaming and mobile browsers after receiving broad support for its proposals first published in June 2022.
The CMA has consulted on launching market research alongside its own Mobile Phone Marketing Study report, which found that Apple and Google have an effective duopoly on mobile ecosystems that allows them to exercise a stranglehold over operating systems, app stores and browsers on mobile devices.
Browsers are one of the most important and widely used applications on mobile devices. Most people use their web browser at least every day to access online content such as information, news, videos and shopping. 97 percent of all mobile browsing in the UK in 2021 takes place on browsers powered by Apple’s or Google’s browser, so any restrictions on these engines can have a significant impact on user experiences.
Computer games are a multi-billion pound industry in the UK, played by millions of people. There are already more than 800,000 users of cloud gaming services in the UK, but restrictions on their distribution on mobile devices could prevent growth in this sector, meaning UK gamers are missing out.
Responses to the consultation reveal strong support for a fuller inquiry into the way Apple and Google dominate the mobile browser market and how Apple limits cloud gaming through its App Store. Many of those have come from browsers, web developers and cloud gaming providers who say the status quo is hurting their businesses, stifling innovation and adding unnecessary costs.
Web developers have complained that Apple’s restrictions, combined with a suggested underinvestment in its browser technology, lead to added costs and frustration as they have to deal with bugs and glitches when building web pages, and have no choice but to create custom mobile apps when a website is a website. could be enough.
Ultimately, these restrictions limit choice and can make it difficult to bring innovative new software into the hands of UK consumers. At the same time, Apple and Google have argued that restrictions are necessary to protect users. The CMA’s market inquiry will consider these concerns and consider whether new rules are needed to drive better outcomes.
Market research can result in changes to company behavior and restrictions that improve competition and lead to greater choice for consumers and better quality products.
“We want to ensure that UK consumers get the best new mobile data services, and that UK developers can invest in innovative new apps,” said Sarah Cardell, interim CEO of the CMA. “Many UK businesses and web developers are telling us that they feel they are being held back by restrictions put in place by Apple and Google. When the new Digital Markets regime is in place, it will likely address these types of issues. In the meantime, we are using our existing powers to address issues where we can. 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.”