back to article UK competition watchdog begins probe into Apple and Google's total domination of the mobile landscape

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a market study into Google and Apple's duopoly of the mobile sphere, with the aim of determining whether this has resulted in reduced innovation and higher prices for consumers. Unlike other investigations that have taken place in the US and Europe, the CMA has cast …

  1. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    "Authority investigating whether duopoly is harming consumers"

    Let me give you two answers for that.

    Short Answer : Yes.

    Long Answer: Abso-f%&king-lutely...

    Glad I could clear that up for the CMA. So there, I've saved them a ton of time and money, and now they can go straight to remedying the problem. Easy, huh?

    1. Oh Matron!

      Is there a barrier to selling a handset with a different OS on it? No

      Is there a 50/50 split in market share between apple and google? No

      Can you launch an android device without Google's shiteware on it. Yes

      Is this free market ecomonics at play. Yes

      Can you launch your own app store for both OS.... Erm, not so much.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        > Can you launch your own app store for both OS.... Erm, not so much.

        Actually, there's sites/apps like Fdroid, which houses open source Android applications. However, Google Play protests bitterly about allowing it, and pretty much suggests your house will burn down and your dog will be raped.

        They have recently modified Play to complain every time you install/update something, not just when you enable it. This is not kosher, IMHO.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Most answers wrong:

        "Is there a barrier to selling a handset with a different OS on it? No": Yes there is. It's expensive. Software drivers aren't written for anything except Android, so you have to write them yourself (see PinePhone for an example of what it takes).

        "Is there a 50/50 split in market share between apple and google? No": Irrelevant.

        "Can you launch an android device without Google's shiteware on it. Yes": Not if you also make ones with it on, though, because that's a contract violation. You have to only make AOSP devices for the people who want that. That rules out pretty much everybody who exists today.

        "Is this free market ecomonics at play. Yes": No, it's unfair restricted market economics at play. Capitalism likes competition. The lack of it is an inefficiency.

        "Can you launch your own app store for both OS.... Erm, not so much.": Only clearly write answer here.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Software drivers aren't written for anything except Android, so you have to write them yourself

          So you think someone else should provide drivers for you if you want to launch a third party OS? Drivers are written for Linux, so you could base your new OS on Linux without any need to rewrite drivers. If you want to do a new OS from scratch then yes you have to write drivers yourself and you damn well shouldn't expect someone else to pick up the tab for you!

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            They asked about barriers. That's a barrier. Because most of the time, the driver is written by the component manufacturer to work with an open spec, not by you. That's a real barrier to other OSes, and it's not at all similar to the landscape of computers, where standardization allows most hardware to work because they implement device-specific code on the device and use an agreed-upon standard which is supported by kernels.

            Most of the drivers concerned are written by the device manufacturers specifically for Android, not Linux, and they don't give out the specifications needed to write your own. You can, through tedious effort and legal uncertainty, reverse-engineer the component and try to write one, but that's a significant barrier because your competitors just buy the pieces and use the manufacturer's code. That is why I used the PinePhone example. They are using a CPU which is several years old and underpowered compared to modern phones because it's one with Linux support. Despite the fact that Android devices use the Linux kernel, you can't take one and boot mainline on it due to software unavailable for it. Therefore, you are wrong both about who writes drivers and what is currently available for phones.

          2. big_D Silver badge

            Drivers in Linux don't write themselves either. You have a new bit of hardware for your phone? You still have to write the drivers or get somebody to write them for you and, even in the Linux world, that can often cost big money.

        2. tiggity Silver badge

          @doublelayer

          " Capitalism likes competition. The lack of it is an inefficiency."

          No, it likes as near a monopoly scenario as possible as means more money.

          Capitalism is not about efficiency, its about lots of money for a few people and "pennies" for the rest.

          e.g. if company x can get by on cheap labour and old inefficient machinery and make their product cheaper or similar price to company y that use better, newer tech that needs more skilled staff & pay staff more then company x has no incentive to become more efficient.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            It may result in that, but capitalism as an ideal does encourage competition. The "free market" about which the original poster spoke is based on this idea. I was not intending to participate in an argument about whether capitalism works, just whether the phone market is a free market. It is not.

  2. Peter Galbavy
    Holmes

    Let's check for ursine defectation in forested areas while we're at it, no?

  3. gerryg

    I'm typing this on a Moto G8 power

    It cost me less than £200 and you can buy them currently for £135. Some people pay five times that much and it's not because of Android. You can pay less than I did and still get full fat Android. I crowd funded Jolla and Sailfish but luckily managed to sell it on at almost zero net cost. Microsoft, not short of a few quid, have failed miserably to enter the market.

    So I assume Android must be doing something right. I wouldn't enter the Apple ecosystem in a hazmat suit. So I'm more voluntarily detained than locked-in.

    App store? Don't know enough to comment.

    Also in the phone market let's not forget you are selling your soul to the carrier.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: I'm typing this on a Moto G8 power

      > Microsoft, not short of a few quid, have failed miserably to enter the market

      Microsoft was short of a few brain cells. They jerked around the users of WinCE/Windows Mobile/Windows Phone/whatever the branding was that week, forgetting there was actually competition and alternatives. This resulted in a mass exodus. I heard the last few iterations were really nice until Microsoft dropped all support.

      As much as I hate Google/Apple, this was more of a Microsoft own-goal.

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: I'm typing this on a Moto G8 power

        @Gene Cash ”As much as I hate Google/Apple, this was more of a Microsoft own-goal.”

        I disagree, Microsoft could have done better but their real problem was lack of apps. To do better IMHO they should have marketed to their strength’s integration with business and windows.

        But to address the app deficit they would have had to write some of the more popular apps themselves. Sure, they could they are a software company after all. But that is Microsoft other companies would not have had the skills and money to do that.

        To be honest all iterations were nice 7, 7.5, 7.8, 8 and 10. I have had all and in most cases the apps continued to work across iterations, I am still running apps purchased on 7 on my win 10 phone.

        The reason Microsoft stopped was due to the fact they did not get more than 2.5% of the market. It was not a mass exodus it was more a lack of uptake by app makers.

        The point is if Microsoft could not break into the market even with the resources they had there is very little chance that anyone else can.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm typing this on a Moto G8 power

          I eventually had to reluctantly move to an Android phone when an app I needed was no longer supported on Windows phone. Given the choice, I would still use it. The interface was superior.

          One feature it had, which my current phone seems to lack is the ability to set outgoing number to private for dialed numbers, but show my number to contacts. With my current handset it only appears to support all private or all displayed.

        2. Zolko Bronze badge

          Re: I'm typing this on a Moto G8 power

          As much as I hate Google/Apple, this was more of a Microsoft own-goal.

          I rather think it was purposeful sabotage, directed by the US government to not allow any non-US OS. That's why they also killed BlackBerry. Yes, I know, this is a conspiracy theory, but Snowden and Assange are living - for now - proof that the US government is ready to ANYTHING to control the Internet. Look also at Huawei or the proposed ARM takeover by Nvidia.

          Even Linux is fully 100% NSA compatible (think binary drivers and gagging orders)

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Microsoft failed for the same reason Blackberry did

      They saw smartphones as the tool of the PHB, the logical successor to geeky devices like the Palm Pilot, not the mass market consumer product that Apple saw.

      Even when they finally threw in the towel on crappy Windows Mobile and went with Windows Phone, they still had enough time in which it could have been successful. But they made a MAJOR branding mistake by associating it with Windows. I think Microsoft felt they could capture the corporate market with that branding and felt the consumer market was nice to have but not necessary for success. i.e. still thinking like Blackberry, and ignoring that the obvious reality that BYOD would become preferable for both the business and the employee.

      Associating it with Windows was a terrible move for consumer sales. Nothing says "boring and stodgy" to younger people like Windows. There's a reason that Xbox and Zune adopted different names when they tried to reach the consumer market. They should have created a new brand for their phone, and de-emphasized the Microsoft heritage as much as possible. Worse yet, they even followed Windows OS release numbering, further accentuating the link and causing them to go years between "major" number updates when iOS and Android were going up a number every year (if you think that doesn't matter why did Chrome and Firefox adopt that major release every six weeks type schedule?)

      Microsoft's other big problem was they were relying on their PC partners to make phones. Why did they assume that Dell would be able to make a decent smartphone just because they can make a laptop? Since Android was free and Windows Phone was not (ANOTHER mistake!) phone OEMs like Samsung had every incentive to hope Windows Phone was a flop. That doesn't lead to them making Windows Phone devices a priority, or trying to produce get the best hardware out as quickly as possible.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TL:DR: Yes.

    Any questions?

  5. Dinanziame Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    The question is not whether it does

    The question is what to do about it. Android and iOS totally have a duopoly, but they are actually competing pretty hard already, and whoever tries to create a third system will get shredded. How do you break the situation? Forcing them to accept third-party app stores is good, maybe forcing Google to make its apps available independently of Google Play Services might be another. I'm still not sure that this will be enough.

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