UK to investigate Apple and Google’s ‘effective duopoly’ in mobile operating systems

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is taking a closer look at whether Apple’s and Google’s “effective duopoly” over the supply of operating systems (iOS and Android), app stores (App Store and Play Store), and web browsers (Safari and Chrome), could be resulting in consumers losing out across a wide range of areas.

Apple's flagship iPhone 12 Pro Max
A real iPhone: Apple’s flagship iPhone 12 Pro Max

For the CMA’s purposes, “mobile ecosystems” refers to the collection of gateways through which consumers can access a variety of products, content and services, such as music, TV and video streaming, as well as fitness tracking, shopping and banking. These products also include other technology and devices such as smart speakers, smart watches, home security and lighting (which mobiles can connect to and control).

The CMA is looking into whether the two firms’ control over mobile ecosystems is stifling competition across a range of digital markets. The CMA is concerned this could lead to reduced innovation across the sector and consumers paying higher prices for devices and apps, or for other goods and services due to higher advertising prices.

The study will also examine any effects of the firms’ market power over other businesses – such as app developers – which rely on Apple or Google to market their products to customers via their phones.

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA said in a statement:

“Apple and Google control the major gateways through which people download apps or browse the web on their mobiles – whether they want to shop, play games, stream music or watch TV. We’re looking into whether this could be creating problems for consumers and the businesses that want to reach people through their phones.

“Our ongoing work into big tech has already uncovered some worrying trends and we know consumers and businesses could be harmed if they go unchecked. That’s why we’re pressing on with launching this study now, while we are setting up the new Digital Markets Unit, so we can hit the ground running by using the results of this work to shape future plans.”

This study is part of a broader programme of CMA work, which includes establishing a new pro-competition regulatory regime for digital markets through the Digital Markets Unit. As the CMA works with the Government on these proposals, the CMA will continue to use its existing powers to their fullest extent in order to examine and protect competition in these areas.

The CMA has been investigating Apple’s App Store and Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals over competition concerns. While both examine issues falling within the scope of this study, the CMA’s work into mobile ecosystems is much broader. The CMA will adopt a joined-up approach across all these related cases, to ensure the best outcomes for consumers and other businesses.

Market studies can make recommendations to government or other bodies, and issue guidance to businesses and consumers as needed, among other options.

Views are welcomed on any of the issues raised in the statement of scope by 26 July and the CMA is also keen to hear from app developers, via its questionnaire, by the same date. The CMA has 12 months to conclude the study.

All updates on the CMA’s work in this area can be found on the Mobile Ecosystems case page.

MacDailyNews Take: The fact is that Apple has no monopoly in smartphones, or in any other market, so Apple is incapable of committing monopoly abuse.

Worldwide smartphone OS market share, May 2021:

• Android: 72.72%
• iOS: 26.46%

I don’t think anybody reasonable is going to come to the conclusion that Apple is a monopoly. Our share is much more modest. We don’t have a dominant position in any market… We are not a monopoly.Apple CEO Tim Cook, June 2019


  1. Duopoles can still do a lot of damage, as the interests of the two companies are likely to be quite similar.

    But instead of complaining and throwing mandates at existing companies, I wish these governments would just hire some programs and provide the needed competition. They could easily make something better than MacOS if they start with the neglected mess that the finder has become. I miss the days with everything just worked.

    Everyone uses obsolete formats like Jpeg, MP3, Word, Animated GIF and PDF because for every better format, one or both of the duopoles refuses to adopt it.

      1. There have been all sorts of better OSes, it just didn’t matter. For most of MacOS history, the Mac itself is the perfect example of better not making any difference due to entrenched monopoly of MS. That hasn’t changed just because Apple is able to be more manipulative these days.

      2. “I wish these governments would just hire some programs and provide the needed competition.”

        Is there some noxious gas slipping under the door where you’re spending a lot of time?

        1. I’ll guess he’s a millennial that thinks it’s govt’s job to create our World and, or he’s one the the (approx) 25-30% of young Americans that think Communism maybe a good idea to implement.

  2. Non sense. The problem with Europe is they are to dizzy to act like China and make their own stuff. They embraced US modernity and didn’t realise it came with a price. They should use the money injected into those lawsuits into their own tech people. Geez… What a shame/mess/dilema.

  3. There were other OS’s…….Microsolth’s failed phone, BlackBerry……. How about the UK get stuck with China’s various spy software OS’s. What a stupid bunch they have running the show around there.

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