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CMA seeks to tackle Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOGL) duopoly

By Neil Dennis

13:57, 14 December 2021

Hands holding a mobile phone in a cafe
iOS and Android systems dominate the market – Photo: Shutterstock

The UK’s competition regulator said on Tuesday that Apple and Google have too much control over how users of mobile devices access information and make online purchases, and urges the government to allow it greater powers to intervene on anti-competitive behaviour.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), in response to a probe and consultation process launched earlier this year, said that when a mobile device is purchased, the owner is obliged to enter Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android ecosystem.

“As a result, Apple and Google are able to control how online content, such as mobile apps and websites, is provided to users,” Tuesday’s announcement said.

Tilting the playing field

It added that the result of this obligation means both companies are able to “tilt the playing field towards their own services”, with the Safari and Chrome web browsers coming pre-installed on iOS and Android devices.

“We’re concerned that it’s causing millions of people across the UK to lose out,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CME.

While most consumers know that when they buy a new phone Apple and Google are the main suppliers of operating systems, it can be easy to forget that just two companies decide what apps and services are available and control which online content has priority.

“This control can limit innovation and choice, and lead to higher prices – none of which is good news for users,” Coscelli added.

He concluded: “Any intervention must tackle the firms’ substantial market power across the key areas of operating systems, app stores and browsers.”

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Digital Markets Unit

To this end, the CMA has proposed the launch of a Digital Markets Unit within the CMA, overseeing a mandatory code of conduct that can allow the regulator to intervene to allow consumers more choice and promote competition from challenger companies.


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The consultation process continues and seeks responses from interested parties by 7 February, and the CMA said it expected to issue a final report in June 2022.

Apple responded with the following statement emailed to “Apple believes in thriving and dynamic markets, where innovation can flourish. We face intense competition in every segment in which we operate, and our North Star is always the trust of our users. We will continue to create new opportunities for developers while protecting our users’ privacy and security.

“Our rules and guidelines are constantly evolving, and we have made many recent changes that benefit developers and consumers alike. We will continue to engage constructively with the UK Competition and Markets Authority as its work on this study progresses.”

A spokesperson for Google said: “Android provides people with more choice than any other mobile platform in deciding which apps and app stores they use. The Android app ecosystem also supports nearly a quarter of a million jobs across thousands of app developer and phone maker businesses in the UK. 

“At Google, we regularly review how we can best support these businesses. We’re committed to building thriving, open platforms that empower consumers and help developers succeed.” also contacted representatives of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, but at the time of writing there was no response.


Read more: Apple (AAPL) stock forecast for 2025 driven by new car

Markets in this article

Alphabet Inc - A (Extended Hours)
130.99 USD
1.18 +0.910%
Apple Inc (Extended Hours)
193.45 USD
4.14 +2.190%

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The difference between trading assets and CFDs
The main difference between CFD trading and trading assets, such as commodities and stocks, is that you don’t own the underlying asset when you trade on a CFD.
You can still benefit if the market moves in your favour, or make a loss if it moves against you. However, with traditional trading you enter a contract to exchange the legal ownership of the individual shares or the commodities for money, and you own this until you sell it again.
CFDs are leveraged products, which means that you only need to deposit a percentage of the full value of the CFD trade in order to open a position. But with traditional trading, you buy the assets for the full amount. In the UK, there is no stamp duty on CFD trading, but there is when you buy stocks, for example.
CFDs attract overnight costs to hold the trades (unless you use 1-1 leverage), which makes them more suited to short-term trading opportunities. Stocks and commodities are more normally bought and held for longer. You might also pay a broker commission or fees when buying and selling assets direct and you’d need somewhere to store them safely.
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