The UK’s competition watchdog has warned Apple and Google have a “vice-like grip” on how consumers use mobile phones, stripping them from any meaningful choice and hampering competition in the sector.
A preliminary investigation published by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today concludes that the two tech giants have dominated the market and have been able to exercise total control over the content and apps that people are able to access on their devices.
This creation of their own self-contained ecosystems – Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android – has resulted in them being able to “tilt the playing field towards their own services,” the CMA said today, warning that this could lead to higher prices.
The watchdog also cautioned that their duopoly could lead to consumers missing out on the new products and services – for example so-called ‘web apps’ and new ways to play games through cloud services on iOS devices.
“Apple and Google have developed a vice-like grip over how we use mobile phones and we’re concerned that it’s causing millions of people across the UK to lose out,” said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli.
In the report, the regulator details a range of possible solutions for the issues it flags, including making it easier for consumers to switch between iOS and Android phones when they want a new device, without jeopardising its functionality or data.
The CMA also suggests enabling all apps to give users a choice of how they pay in-app for things like game credits or subscriptions, rather than it being solely tied to Apple’s and Google’s payment systems.
The watchdog is welcoming responses to its preliminary findings before a 7 Feb deadline, after which it plans to publish a final report by June next year.