Today’s announcement from the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is the result of sustained pressure from campaigners, Marketers for an Open Web or MOW.
James Rosewell, MOW director, said: “The CMA investigation is long overdue and is something we’ve been fighting for.”
He congratulated the watchdog on taking on board MOW’s concerns. The organisation, which comprises online publishers, advertisers, tech and data companies, argues that Apple and Google enjoy too much market power and are stifling competition and restricting consumer choice.
MOW first raised its concerns about the relationship between Apple and Google in response to the CMA’s investigation of Apple’s App Store earlier in the year. Last month, MOW wrote to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport outlining its belief that Apple and Google were in a “symbiotic relationship” and engaging in “collaboration” with each other.
In that letter, dated 21 May 2021, Tim Cowen, MOW’s lawyer and Chair of the antitrust practice at Preiskel & Co LLP, stated: “We see an urgent need for action to prevent further damage to the market, long lasting change to market structure and harm to competitors and consumers.”
In an Appendix attached to the letter, MOW set out detailed evidence of the companies’ close ties and of them working together.
Speaking today, Rosewell from MOW said he was especially gratified and encouraged that the CMA inquiry would be far-reaching and thorough. “It will look, not only at their hold over mobile phones per se but at their ‘ecosystems’ which will include their web browsers and their app stores. With the CMA’s help, we will finally see the extent of their control and influence. Hopefully, the CMA will then be able to take corrective action.”
Rosewell said MOW would now be looking to worldwide regulators and the W3C body that sets industry standards to follow the CMA’s lead.