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PPA response cited in final CMA report on Mobile Ecosystems

By PPA Public Affairs Team

15 Jun 2022

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its Final Report following an extensive Market Study into Mobile Ecosystems.

The PPA submitted a response to the CMA’s most recent consultation on its investigation, focusing on Apple and Google’s role in competition between app developers, and specifically publisher apps.

In its summary of the Final Report, the CMA notes: ‘Apple and Google’s control of their app stores puts them in a key position to set the rules for competition between app developers whilst also directly competing with their own apps. They unilaterally determine: what apps are allowed; how they are ranked and discovered; and set commission rates and many other rules.’ Areas of relevance to publisher apps include:

  • self-preferencing of Apple/Google apps or services in a way that harms competition and consumers
  • restrictions on access to hardware and software functionality
  • pre-installation and default-setting of certain apps
  • app discovery through the App Store and Play Store
  • collection and use by Apple and Google of commercially sensitive information and other data from app developers

The CMA makes clear that the evidence from the Market Study further demonstrates the need for the government’s proposed new pro-competition regulatory regime, which would empower the Digital Markets Unit (DMU).

The regulator notes that ‘many of the concerns we have regarding Apple and Google’s hold over their mobile ecosystems could not be addressed through quick or easy fixes’, making the new regime’s tailored powers essential.

However, the CMA has decided to consult on a Market Investigation Reference (an in-depth probe using its existing powers) into mobile browsers and cloud gaming, with the regulator citing submissions including the PPA’s as explanation of its decision.

Although the discrete areas in the focus of the probe are not central to publishers’ concerns, it is positive that the regulator is showing a willingness to use its existing powers before the DMU is given statutory backing.

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