Apple and Google found to have a "vise-like" hold on the smartphone market by UK regulator

Apple and Google found to have a "vise-like grip" on the smartphone market by UK regulator
It's no secret that Apple and Google have been under scrutiny from European, American, and British antitrust organizations and watchdogs, for their monopoly over the smartphone market, and their dominance on it which may be regarded as an anti-competitive behavior that limits healthy competition. Now, The Wall Street Journal reports about another report (non-binding report at the moment), this time from a UK regulator, which states Apple and Google are having a "vise-like grip" on smartphones.

Another regulator report sees Google and Apple as anti-competitive

The UK regulator's report is currently non-binding and it doesn't have any legislation propositions so far. However, Britain's antitrust regulator stated it was assessing whether to try to loosen the control that the two tech giants exercise on the smartphone market and smartphone ecosystems.

So far, the report is in its preliminary stage, and it is a part of several non-binding research efforts undergone by the United Kingdom, as well as other antitrust regulators in Europe. The research is looking into competition in the tech industry and its current state. The report doesn't come with any regulatory action such as fines or remedial orders right now. Despite that, it could lay the foundation for more specific actions and proposals by regulators in the UK and in Europe.

The report is also a part of a push from Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The agency has been pushing a series of somewhat ambitious and novel regulatory actions ever since the UK left the European Union. Last month, for example, the same regulatory agency ordered Meta (this is the new name for Facebook the company) to sell animated images company Giphy. This order was accompanied by the statement that this acquisition limited competition among platforms and advertisers from the UK.

Currently, Meta is appealing this decision and insisting the deal benefits consumers.

CMA has now published a 445-page report that finds Google and Apple's dominance on the smartphone market and more precisely, the power they exercise over their respective app stores makes it difficult for people to find alternative apps that fit their needs, for example, switching web browsers on their phones. This control is seen as limiting innovation and choice and leading to higher prices.

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Additionally, the CMA stated the report could lead to recommendations of what would be useful to do in order to boost competition. However, the agency first needs to get new powers proposed by the British government. The report also details a set of actions that could be considered to address the issues and to make it easier for customers to switch ecosystems without losing functionality or data.

CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli stated: “Apple and Google have developed a vise-like grip over how we use mobile phones, and we’re concerned that it’s causing millions of people across the U.K. to lose out”. The CMA will continue to examine the issue at hand and reportedly plans to publish a final report in the June of next year.

However, an Apple spokeswoman reportedly stated that the company does face intense competition in every segment that they operate, and that Apple will continue to work with the CMA on the aforementioned study. Meanwhile, a Google spokeswoman stated that the Mountain View tech giant is “committed to building thriving, open platforms that empower consumers and help developers succeed.”

Currently, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority is one of the most active antitrust regulator bodies in the world. It has therefore taken a leading role in studying digital markets and in investigating big tech giant companies. Last year, the same antitrust regulator published a 437-page report on online advertising that highlighted the market dominance of Google and Facebook. This report had competition rules proposed, which are in the midst of debate right now in the UK.

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