It seems like nearly every week the UK or EU are investigating Apple Inc. 147,81 -0,50 -0,34% and/or Google Inc. 101,28 -0,17 -0,17% Android for being ‘anti-competitive’. Earlier this year, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) was looking into further investigating Google and Apple’s dominance in the mobile phone market
“Many UK businesses and web developers tell us they feel that they are being held back by restrictions set by Apple and Google,” said the CMA’s interim chief executive, Sarah Cardell in a statement. “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.”
The CMA noted that Apple and Google have a “stranglehold” over mobile device operating systems, app stores and browsers. It said 97 percent of UK web browsing in 2021 happened on either Apple or Google’s browser engines, “so any restrictions on these engines can have a major impact on users’ experiences.” It also noted that cloud gaming services count 800,000 UK users, “but restriction on their distribution could hamper growth in this sector.”
I am not sure what ‘restrictions’ they are being held back by and the article does not go into details. There has been in the past complaints about app developers having to use Google or Apple’s payment gateways for in-app purchases with ‘excessive commission fees’. Or perhaps they don’t like Apple’s updated privacy rules from 2021 which Meta was accused of bypassing. Why are we not hearing these same ‘complaints’ (aside from the payment gateways) from other business and web developers, such as those here in the US?
Not certain if the CMA statement in regards to the “97% of UK web browsing” was on Apple or Google browsers was overall or just mobile. Also, do they consider Microsoft’s Edge, Vivaldi, Opera and Brave “Google browser engines’ since they are all Chromium based? That would mean the remaining 3% is likely Mozilla. Many people have long forgotten, but back in 2010 Microsoft Corporation 255,02 +0,33 +0,13% had Windows (7) phone. Many say that Windows Phone simply couldn’t compete with the might iPhone or Google’s Android. While that does hold some truth, it was more Microsoft’s own doings for the ultimate failure of Windows Phone. Microsoft shut themselves in the foot with Windows Phone for the PC (Windows 8). The original Windows Phone 7 was using the tile interface which was great for mobile devices, but not so much for (non-touchscreen) PCs. Unfortunately, most people associated Windows Phone with Windows 8 and never gave it a chance.
What is ironic about the Apple and Google’s “stranglehold” with mobile device browsers was the EU back in 2010 (the UK was still part of the EU at that time) had forced Microsoft to create a ‘browser ballot‘ where EU users would choose which browser they wanted installed when they first setup their PC’s. Seems the task of opening Internet
Exploder…err… Exploiter…I mean Explorer to download and install their preferred browser was anti-competitive. Microsoft did get fined back in 2013 due to a glitch with the release of Windows 7 SP1 for a period of around 14-months in 2011/2012 some 15-million EU users didn’t get the pop-up. It was believed Google may have tipped off the EU about Microsoft’s compliance failure. Even more ironic is how Microsoft keeps shoving ads to use their Edge browser (though it is built on Google’s Chromium engine) when ever you visit their sites or Bing with another browser.
Consumers are going to use what they know and trust…even if that happens to be Google and Apple browser engines. That is they way the market works and as much as the UK/EU tries to ‘fix’ this, it is just not going to happen. Furthermore, user privacy and safeguard rules should not be viewed as anticompetitive. Most consumers would preferer the UK/EU put their resources into protecting their privacy instead into countless anti-competitive investigations to bankroll their unions. So often lately it seems these big tech companies are getting a slap on the wrist for privacy violations, but suffer far worse monetary punishments for being anti-competitive or in Apple’s case being fined by the Brazilian government for trying to have less negative impact on the environment.