UK Looks to Trigger Regulation Process to Target Apple's Cloud Gaming and Browser Engine Restrictions

The UK's competition watchdog seeks to "remedy" Apple's restrictions on browser engines in iOS and cloud gaming through the App Store via a high-level regulatory process, the organization announced today.

app store blue banner uk fixed
The announcement comes upon the publication of the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) year-long study into Apple and Google's mobile ecosystems, which finds that Apple and Google have an "effective duopoly" on mobile ecosystems that allows them to "exercise a stranglehold over these markets," including on operating systems, app stores, and web browsers. "Without interventions," the press release claims, "both companies are likely to maintain, and even strengthen, their grip over the sector, further restricting competition and limiting incentives for innovators."

The report identifies "a range of potential interventions" that could be taken to address the raised issues, but the CMA has specifically looked at ways to take "immediately targeted actions" using its current powers, including launching a wide-reaching "market investigation reference" into mobile browser engines and cloud gaming.

The study sets out concerns that Apple's ban on alternative browser engines on iOS and iPadOS "severely limits the potential for rival browsers to differentiate themselves from Safari (for example, on features such as speed and functionality) and limits Apple's incentives to invest in its browser engine." It also highlights that Apple's browser engine restriction "seriously inhibits the capability of web apps," which is said to be "depriving consumers and businesses of the full benefits of this innovative technology," and the "key advantage" that Apple and Google gain from selling devices with their own browser app pre-installed.

Overall, the evidence we have seen does not suggest that the WebKit restriction is justified by security concerns. We note that Apple benefits financially from weakening competition in browsers via the browser engine ban.

Meanwhile, in recent submissions to the United States National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla have all explicitly condemned Apple's WebKit restriction.

The CMA's report also criticizes Apple's restrictions on cloud gaming services on the ‌App Store‌. "Gaming apps are a key source of revenue for Apple and cloud gaming could pose a real threat to Apple's strong position in-app distribution. By preventing this sector from growing, Apple risks causing mobile users to miss out on the full benefits of cloud gaming," the study claims.

The CMA's proposal for a market investigation reference looks to determine what specific remedial actions can be taken to improve competition with regard to browser engines and cloud gaming on Apple platforms, potentially including orders that require Apple to make material changes to its practices. The study into mobile ecosystems is intended to serve as a basis for negotiating undertakings and imposing orders.

Market investigations are a high-level process through which the CMA can request extensive information from companies to draw conclusions and implement legally binding remedies. Market investigation references are seldom used since they are resource-intensive and impose a significant burden on companies, especially amid the threat of structural disinvestments and stringent behavioral solutions.

Separately, the CMA continues to examine Apple's ‌App Store‌ terms and conditions in a competition law investigation that started in March 2021, and the UK government is empowering its Digital Markets Unit with statutory powers to penalize companies that do not meet its rules with considerable fines.

Apple's ecosystem is increasingly coming under intense scrutiny by governments around the world, including in the United States, Japan, South Korea, the European Union, and more, with a clear appetite from global regulators to explore requirements around issues like app store policies, app sideloading, and interoperability amid concerns about competition.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

djcerla Avatar
16 weeks ago
Here in the EU we have the worst possibile web experience due to these endless, stupid nag screens. It’s a nightmare.

Now, let’s ruin all the rest, block by block.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
211 Avatar
16 weeks ago

Here in the EU we have the worst possibile web experience due to these endless, stupid nag screens. It’s a nightmare.

Now, let’s ruin all the rest, block by block.
If you mean cookie preferences, this was not the intention of the EU and websites have deliberately implemented to be compliant but still get their way (ie. "encourage" to accept all cookies). The EU didn't anticipate this but is working on an update to resolve this to make it better for the consumer.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
antiprotest Avatar
16 weeks ago

If you mean cookie preferences, this was not the intention of the EU and websites have deliberately implemented to be compliant but still get their way (ie. "encourage" to accept all cookies). The EU didn't anticipate this but is working on an update to resolve this to make it better for the consumer.
They should start anticipating things, or they'd prove more and more that they're not qualified to make these decisions for tech users.

If they can't anticipate things and keep slapping more and more regulations on to everything it's going to ruin things for everyone, and not just in EU.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CalMin Avatar
16 weeks ago
I don’t get this at all.

if I build a department store. Why can’t I run that store how I like? Should I be compelled to let someone else come in and make money in my store? Vendors / Customers who aren’t happy with the way I run my store can sell / shop across the street?

Nobody is compelled to buy an iPhone so why is it considered a monopoly? People who aren’t happy can buy a different device. If nobody likes existing options then the market can be disrupted by a new entrant.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Orange Bat Avatar
16 weeks ago
I generally am not a bit fan of regulation, but I really dislike Apple’s policy on browser engines. I’d like to see some other browser engines brought to iOS as I think it would push innovation and give users more choice.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Orange Bat Avatar
16 weeks ago

I don’t get this at all.

if I build a department store. Why can’t I run that store how I like? Should I be compelled to let someone else come in and make money in my store? Vendors / Customers who aren’t happy with the way I run my store can sell / shop across the street?

Nobody is compelled to buy an iPhone so why is it considered a monopoly? People who aren’t happy can buy a different device. If nobody likes existing options then the market can be disrupted by a new entrant.
Imagine there being only 2 department stores in New York City. You can go to 1 department store or the other. However, only one department store sells shirts, and only shirts made by themselves. The other department store doesn’t have shirts, but sells their own pants brand. Each department store also requires membership and it a significant cost to join the other department store.

The problem with phones aren’t the devices themselves, but the operating systems. There are only 2 real competitors in the phone OS market and they can wield a significant amount of power over consumers and creators. For example, Apple only allows the WebKit browser engine. Why? This limits innovation and user choice If you go with Apple.

EDIT: I’m not saying I agree or disagree with government intervention. I understand it, but I don’t understand it well enough to offer a confident opinion on the matter.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

webkit vs chromium feature

Should Apple Continue to Ban Rival Browser Engines on iOS?

Friday February 25, 2022 7:39 am PST by
Apple requires all apps that browse the web in iOS and iPadOS to use its own browser engine, WebKit, but amid accusations of anti-competitive conduct, should it continue to effectively ban rival browser engines? Big tech has been gripped by accusations of anti-competitive conduct in recent times, with Chief Executive of the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Andrea Coscelli...
webkit logo

Web Developers Form Advocacy Group to Allow Other Browser Engines on iOS

Wednesday March 2, 2022 4:29 am PST by
Apple is being challenged by a group of developers to end WebKit's dominance on its mobile devices and allow other browser engines on iPhone and iPad, following accusations that the current situation amounts to anti-competitive conduct. For those unfamiliar with WebKit, Apple's browser engine powers Safari and other areas of the operating system where web content is displayed. Apple requires ...
aapl logo banner

'Brutal Battle' Expected as Regulators Close in on Apple Around the World

Tuesday June 21, 2022 8:52 am PDT by
Experts anticipate a "brutal battle" between Apple and global regulators amid concerns about how the company may "exaggerate" its privacy and security claims for commercial gain and curtail interoperability to keep users locked into a "walled garden." Global experts and leaders of competition policy convened at the Data, Technology, and Analytics Conference 2022 last week, hosted by the UK's ...
app store blue banner uk fixed

Apple Clashes With UK Regulator in Fierce Response to Warning That Could Require It to 'Redesign the iPhone'

Friday March 11, 2022 9:04 am PST by
Apple has aggressively defended its ecosystem in a newly-published response to the UK's competition watchdog. The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today published Apple's response to its Interim Report on mobile ecosystems, as well responses from dozens of other companies, including Google, Microsoft, and Epic Games. The detailed 47-page response from Apple aggressively...
apple logo us flag smooth

U.S. Government to Investigate Sideloading and Web App Restrictions on iOS

Friday April 29, 2022 5:40 am PDT by
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has launched an investigation into competition in mobile app ecosystems. On behalf of the United States Department of Commerce, the NTIA is now requesting comments about competition in mobile app ecosystems. The investigation was triggered by an executive order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy from July...
tiktok logo

TikTok's In-App Browser Reportedly Capable of Monitoring Anything You Type

Thursday August 18, 2022 4:25 pm PDT by
TikTok's custom in-app browser on iOS reportedly injects JavaScript code into external websites that allows TikTok to monitor "all keyboard inputs and taps" while a user is interacting with a given website, according to security researcher Felix Krause, but TikTok has reportedly denied that the code is used for malicious reasons. Krause said TikTok's in-app browser "subscribes" to all...
apple japan new year promotion 2022

Apple Protests Call for Third-Party App Stores and Lower Platform Fees in Japan

Tuesday April 26, 2022 5:23 am PDT by
Apple today hit back at a report from the Japanese government indicating that the company could be hit with new regulation to ensure fair competition in the smartphone operating system market, The Japan Times reports. The Japanese government's interim report expressed concern over Apple and Google's control of the smartphone operating system market, particularly with regards to pre-installed ...
fortnite microsoft cloud gaming

Fortnite Comes to iPhones and iPads Through Xbox Cloud Gaming

Thursday May 5, 2022 9:22 am PDT by
Microsoft today announced that Fortnite is available through its Xbox Cloud Gaming service, which means iPhone and iPad users can play Fortnite for free with just a Microsoft account. Fortnite is the first free-to-play game that has been aded to Xbox Cloud Gaming, which is still available in a beta capacity. Xbox Cloud Gaming is available in 26 countries and Fortnite can be played on Android ...

Popular Stories

apple watch ultra hammer test

YouTuber Tests Apple Watch Ultra Durability With a Hammer: Table Breaks Before the Watch

Sunday September 25, 2022 2:27 pm PDT by
A YouTuber has put Apple's claims for the durability of the Apple Watch Ultra to the test by putting it up against a drop test, a jar of nails, and repeated hits with a hammer to test the sapphire crystal protecting the display. TechRax, a channel popular for testing the durability of products, first tested the Apple Watch Ultra by dropping it from around four feet high. The Apple Watch...
AirPods Max 2022 Colors

Ten Things AirPods Pro 2 Tell Us About AirPods Max 2

Saturday September 24, 2022 1:00 am PDT by
Upon the release of the second-generation AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max became the oldest current-generation AirPods product still in Apple's lineup. Introducing several new features like Adaptive Transparency and the H2 chip, the second-generation AirPods Pro may provide some of the best indications yet of what to expect from the second-generation AirPods Max. Almost two years later, rumors...
tim cook spring loaded event

Six Major Products to Expect From Apple in 2023

Sunday September 25, 2022 10:57 am PDT by
As we approach the end of a busy product release season for Apple with only new iPads and Macs left to be announced over the next month or so, we're also setting our sights on 2023. Apple is rumored to have several major products in the pipeline for next year, including new Macs, a new HomePod, a VR/AR headset, and so much more. Other than new iPhones and Apple Watches, which are expected...
Tim Cook Apple Event

Gurman: New iPads and Macs May Be Announced Through Press Releases, No October Event

Sunday September 25, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Apple may decide to release its remaining products for 2022, which include updated iPad Pro, Mac mini, and 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, through press releases on its website rather than a digital event, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that Apple is currently "likely to release its remaining 2022 products via press releases,...
apple watch series 7 aluminum colors yellowbg

Don't Want the Apple Watch Ultra or Series 8? Amazon Has Record Low Prices on Series 7 Models This Week

Friday September 23, 2022 6:56 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra are now available to purchase, but if you aren't interested in these updates you can save a lot of money on Series 7 models right now on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. The best deals are on cellular...
iphone 14 pro max deep purple

iPhone 15 'Ultra' Could Replace Pro Max Model Next Year

Sunday September 25, 2022 7:02 am PDT by
Apple is gearing up to possibly replace its "Pro Max" iPhone with an all-new "Ultra" iPhone 15 model next year, reliable Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman said today. Writing in his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that for the iPhone 15, Apple is planning a revamped design alongside USB-C and a potential name change. Apple could replace its "Pro Max" branding, which it started to use...
AirPods Pro Second Generation 2 Pairing Feature 1

AirPods Pro 2 Engravings Appear in iOS During Pairing and Connecting

Friday September 23, 2022 9:40 am PDT by
Customers who personalize their second-generation AirPods Pro charging case with an engraving will now have that engraving reflected directly on iOS as they pair and connect their AirPods Pro. Apple allows customers to personalize their AirPods Pro charging case with a special engraving that can include select emojis and Memojis. Unlike before, starting with the second-generation AirPods...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Some iOS 16 Users Continue to Face Unaddressed Bugs and Battery Drain Two Weeks After Launch

Monday September 26, 2022 7:34 am PDT by
Today marks exactly two weeks since Apple released iOS 16 to the public. Besides the personalized Lock Screen, major changes in Messages, and new features in Maps, the update has also seen its fair share of bugs, performance problems, battery drain, and more. After major iOS updates, it's normal for some users to report having issues with the new update, but such reports usually subside in...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

New 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pros Reportedly Launching Later This Year

Friday September 23, 2022 7:08 am PDT by
Apple plans to release new MacBook Pro models in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report does not mention specific models, but it very likely refers to the next-generation 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros given that the 13-inch model was already updated earlier this year. There has been uncertainty surrounding the timing of new 14-inch and...