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UK to investigate “symbiotic relationship” between Apple and Google as part of antitrust concerns

The companies are accused of collision.
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Many people might think there’s nothing that can affect the tech market more adversely than a handful of Big Tech giants dominating it to the point of creating monopolies.

But now, reports out of the UK suggest there may be something even worse: these corporations colluding to further tighten their grip and keep the competition out.

The allegation that Google and Apple did just that comes from Marketers For An Open Web (MOW), online campaigners supported by ad firms and publishers, who are asking UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to launch a probe, based on information contained in last year’s US Justice Department lawsuit.

The claim is that the two giants developed a strategy that would secure growing revenue from search, while an internal email showed senior figures at the two companies mentioning “a vision” to, in this sense, work as if they are one.

The quote is attributed to a representative of Apple writing to their Google counterpart in 2018, following a meeting.

This email was part of the papers that accompanied the US lawsuit, pushed by search engines trying to compete with Google and regulators, as well as app developers unhappy with the way data is used by Apple in its App Store.

According to MOW’s complaint, Apple benefits from the $12 billion it receives from Google each year to put Google Search on its devices, while Google gets a chance to cover the entire market of both Android and Apple phones, and harvest data from the totality of all mobile device users.

The complaint also accuses Apple and Google, who operate two of the biggest app stores (outside of China), of having created walled gardens that restrict developers’ options when it comes to distribution of their products.

This point, specifically concerning Apple, is already contained in another Competition and Markets Authority investigation announced in early March. The goal of the probe is to establish whether the fact Apple users can only access apps via its store, while developers can only publish them there, means that choice is taken away from both, and if that amounts to an unfair practice.

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