UK watchdog looking into Google and Apple's mobile ecosystems

UK watchdog looking into Google and Apple's mobile ecosystems
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The British competition watchdog is investigating whether Apple and Google’s dominance in the mobile ecosystem is hurting consumers, the group announced Tuesday. 

The United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority said it will look at whether the California-based companies' "effective duopoly" in the mobile ecosystem is stifling competition in a way that leads to reduced innovation and consumers paying higher prices for devices, apps and other services.

The watchdog's study will also look at any effects the companies' market power has over other businesses, including app developers. 

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“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,” Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority, said in a statement. 

The latest probe follows the watchdog's investigation into Apple’s App Store and Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposal, which will remove third-party cookies from its Chrome browser. 

A Google spokesperson said Android products provide users with "more choice than any other mobile platform in deciding which apps they use" and enables developers and manufacturers to "build successful businesses.

"We welcome the CMA’s efforts to understand the details and differences between platforms before designing new rules," the spokesperson added.

A spokesperson for Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

The tech giants have faced fierce pushback globally and in the U.S. 

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Google is facing several lawsuits in the United States alleging anti-competitive behavior, led by the federal government and state attorneys general. The company has denied the allegations of anti-competitive behavior. 

Apple is in the midst of a legal challenge from app developer Epic Games based on the company’s App Store policy collecting up to 30 percent commission fees and requirement for developers to use Apple’s in-app payment system. Apple has defended the policy as benefiting user privacy. A judge is expected to make a decision on the case next month. 

Washington is also eyeing an agenda targeting the market power of tech giants. 

A House antitrust panel unveiled a bipartisan agenda last week that includes bills that give regulators greater authority to rein in the power of the tech giants.

Updated at 11:14 a.m.