back to article UK competition watchdog investigates Apple and Google 'stranglehold' over the mobile market

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a market investigation into cloud gaming and mobile browsers after its study found Apple and Google constitute a duopoly that controls the mobile ecosystem. The CMA in June concluded a year-long study of the market for mobile software, hardware, and services. Based …

  1. DS999 Silver badge

    "Its study found"?

    I hope they didn't spend a lot on that study, it is pretty obvious to anyone with eyes or who can read market share information.

    It is far too late to do anything about it though, there's no chance a third competitor springs up and becomes viable no matter how much they try to hamstring Apple and Google.

    1. Al fazed

      Re: "Its study found"?

      What happened to Huawei ?

      Oh yeah, shot down by British Go Vermin after a knee jerk reaction from over the pond..............

      Were you asleep ?


      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: "Its study found"?

        There is also Samsung...

        However, unlike Huawei, they have a reason to keep Google happy.

      2. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: "Its study found"?

        Huawei phones run Android, it was never a third party competitor to the duopoly. Nor is Samsung.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "Its study found"?


      If Borkzilla hadn't completely fouled up, there might have been a third party but, guess what ? It's expensive to be part of that club.

      Huawei is still going strong in China. I wonder if the UK competition watchdog has any complaint about how Apple and Google have barely any say over there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Its study found"?

        Microso~1 was too late to the party to have any effect here.

        Both they and Blackberry were caught napping, and by the time they got their acts into gear, the bus had already left.

        Blackberry 10, for example, was IMO superior to the contemporary iOS and Android (and contained many elements that have since been plagiarised by both), but it didn't have the ecosystem or the pre-existing install base, forcing it into a catch-22 situation where the ecosystem wasn't growing because of the low number of devices, and the number of sales weren't increasing because the ecosystem was tiny.

        1. captain veg Silver badge

          Re: Microso~1 was too late to the party to have any effect here.

          Windows Mobile usefully predates both iPhone and Android. Microsoft's problem wasn't timing but that the user experience was awful.


  2. HeadPlug

    "Apple’s approach provides users with a valuable choice, centered on security, privacy and performance, between ecosystems"

    Ah, "between ecosystems". Our way or the highway, basically.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      So Apple admits they are a duopoly.

      Good to know they agree with the regulator.

      Now, are the CMA actually going to do anything?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: So Apple admits they are a duopoly.

        >Now, are the CMA actually going to do anything?

        Of course they are, these colonial upstarts will tremble before the might of His Majesty's Government

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So Apple admits they are a duopoly.

        they're going to write a letter saying... how angry they are, and that these practices must stop. Or else.

  3. ChoHag Silver badge

    Pot, meet kettle

    > Microsoft endorsed ... "requiring Apple and Google to provide equal access to functionality through APIs"

    That's a bit rich isn't it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pot, meet kettle

      Like Owen Petterson talking the UK Gov to the ECHR.

  4. pip25

    At last!

    With the CMA on the case, I'm sure their reign of terror will come to a swift end!

    ...And pigs will fly!

  5. 3arn0wl

    Shortsighted oversight :/

    I read this report at the time - the whole construct is built on the myopic misconception that there is only Apple and Android.

    Often not having the skills to differentiate between products; people buy what's popular, and so (as often happens) we've ended up with two systems with market domination. But there have been, and there are, other players: Windowsphone and Linuxphone (with various OSs).

    It's rather hypocritical for a government to put its faith in big business, and then stomp up and down like a petulant child when it doesn't like what big business does. Or perhaps there's some regret in the decision, having seen the outcome?

    A more fruitful way forward might be for the government to promote, and dare I suggest invest, in Linuxphone.

    1. Giles C Silver badge

      Re: Shortsighted oversight :/

      People will buy what is popular which is true. But with the mobile apps market if there are two main platforms to support (Android and iOS) then the application developers will develop for both platforms (assuming they want to be present on both).

      If you had say 5 or 6 mobile systems, would the developers want to spend equal time writing and improving apps for all these systems. This could mean if you bought a Wibble smartphone, you can't run your favourite game or access your bank details because the app developer doesn't think developing an app for a 10000 user base is worth it. This is what happened with the windows phone and blackberry they failed to move with the market and the users moved away to the point where the systems fell into disuse.

      If you look at the desktop market then the main players are Microsoft and Apple - apple has a less than 20% market share and Microsoft takes most of the rest (Linux is still very low usage amongst normal users) so developers will mostly write code for these two platforms.

      I use the Affinity product range, and they write for Windows and Mac but they don't develop for Linux because the market isn't there for it.

      1. Fred Daggy Silver badge

        Re: Shortsighted oversight :/

        Point of order, guv.

        You point stands, but it's not if there are 10,000 users. But are those 10,000 users going to pay? I recall a study that suggested that the Apple ecosystem is so powerfull it generates money, a lot/enormous/huge $$$$ for Apple, but also there is still some for devs and other members of the eco system. If it's Andriod, well, all the money stays with Google. Handset manufacturers make pennies and devs, not a brass razoo.

        Andriod handsets are cheaper, simply because there are so many more manufacturers competing. But cheap attracts cheap. Very few users pay for the apps. So, the major revenue stream is ads. And who sells the ads on the platform? (Clue, starts with a G).

        Apple, well, if you're not poor (hackers aside), you don't buy Andriod, you buy Apple. And it's priced accordingly. Slightly (trivially?) more people pay for apps in the eco system, but it's 99% ads all the way.

        1 billion users doesn't mean anything if there isn't a revenue stream attached.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Shortsighted oversight :/

          Rebuttal, why does paying for the app matter?

          Many of the Apps I've got on my phone are free-to-download but then I pay to use the underlying services.

          Aside from some kids games, what sort of app is actually worth paying for in isolation? Of the top 50 paid iPhone apps at the moment over half are games and the rest are almost all things that either do or should* have subscriptions behind them rather than a single up-front cost.

          *something with ongoing costs to feed data and a low one-off price will become unviable eventually and shut down, wasting your money.

        2. Giles C Silver badge

          Re: Shortsighted oversight :/

          You are right I forgot the point that a proportion of those people need to be willing to pay.

          Mind you a lot of the apps of my devices are supplied by the services that offer them, NatWest, British Gas, Anglian Water, Netflix Disney+ etc.

          Yes I know I am paying for those services, but there still has to be an incentive for them to write the software for the platform.

          There are a few games but I will generally pay the fee (assuming I think it is worth it) to avoid having the ads where possible.

      2. 3arn0wl

        Re: Shortsighted oversight :/

        As Mozilla and UBPorts have both demonstrated, the vast majority of the "Million apps in the app store" are basically wraps around company's websites.

        And contrary to Apple's felonious ring-fencing construct (which Google then used to defend themselves against Windowsphone), most people use a relatively small number of apps across all their platforms : they just like to use the apps they like to use.

        Apps isn't really an argument, though it is true that some apps - e.g. WhatsApp - seem to hold a strange force over people. Sadly.

      3. Johan-Kristian Wold 1

        Re: Shortsighted oversight :/

        A smartphone without apps is kinda useless. this is part of the reason Windows phone died.

        A friend of mine is a bus driver, and used to have a windows phone. The phone was decent, and had a very good camera for the time. He had all sorts of problems, because the apps used by the bus company didn't exist for his phone. He had trouple accessing his scheduling, reporing hours etc. You could access this wia a web app, but that was incredibly cumbersome.

        In my trade, we have specialised apps for checlists, timesheets, documentation, inspection etc. There are ecosystems from several vendors to choose from, but the common factor is that they are only available for Android and iOS.

    2. RyokuMas

      Re: Shortsighted oversight :/

      "promote, and dare I suggest invest, in Linuxphone."

      ... which is fine, until you want a Youtube app, or anything controlled by either Apple or Google.

      Windows Phone could have made it - at one point, it had something like 10% of the UK market. But Microsoft did its usual foot-shooting exercise and that was that - although being blocked/dictated to over certain popular apps probably didn't help.

      The only way that this situation is going to be resolved is to bring it to a court where the case cannot be bought... "settled" prior, and meaningful, ongoing fines imposed.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Shortsighted oversight :/

        >But Microsoft did its usual foot-shooting exercise and that was that

        I wonder if they were still scarred by their monopoly court cases?

        The old reliably Evil Microsoft could have made the Winphone a success by simply blocking any other mobile platform from a bunch of Microsoft tools (Exchange server/ Office365/ etc) , while making it very easy to secure and administer Winphone through your corporate tools.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plus, both Apple and ChromeOS bundle a web browser with their OS.

    Apple owes its existence to Microsoft getting shafted for doing exactly this!

  7. Daedalus

    HMG at it again

    It seems oligopoly is a bad thing unless you're a supplier to HMG, in which case the fewer bidders, the better. The UK had a lot of aerospace companies once upon a time. The myrmidons got tired of dealing with all those proles and directed them to merge into one, the better to engage over lunch at the club.

  8. Charles Bu

    Two whorse race

    Google would love to take share of the Android market from Samsung, Oppo and Xiaomi.

    Just think of how great it would be if or when there were only two mobile hardware options as well as only two OS options.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Register asked Apple and Google to comment but neither responded.

    in other words, a silent middle finger to make their stand absolutely clear on the matter (not that it matters). Which is somewhat peculiar, I thought a silent middle finger replies from google / apple / microsoft / etc are only issued on odd days, while on even days they copy and paste the regular statement about how deeply they care about security and privacy of their users and how hard they work to make their ecosystems even more fair, transparent, and accessible to all, etc.

  10. dave 93


    Nobody forces you to buy an iPhone, or any phone for that matter.

    The 'security' argument is non-trivial when you consider the private information on most peoples' phone.

    Apple's total vertical integration has produced some very capable, and relatively secure devices, and that's why people want them.

    CMA, HMG, Uncle Tom Cobley etc. are welcome to build their own phones, just like Amazon and Microsoft did, instead of trying to break other peoples' phones.

    My outrage would be reserved for the companies whose WHOLE BUSINESS MODEL is selling spyware to nation states to allow them to steal private information from target individual's phones.

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