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UK Apple Antitrust Probe Stopped After Appeal Win

 |  April 2, 2023

A United Kingdom regulator’s investigation of Apple has been halted.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had decided to investigate the supply of mobile browsers and browser engines and the distribution of cloud gaming services through app stores on mobile devices in the U.K.

Apple applied to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) for a review of that decision, and the CAT announced Friday (March 31) that it had found in Apple’s favor because the CMA had not complied with the deadlines required in the process.

Following the decision, a CMA spokesperson said in a statement on the regulator’s website: “We are disappointed with today’s judgment. We made this market investigation reference to make sure that U.K. consumers can get a better choice of mobile internet services and that U.K. developers can invest in innovative new apps. Our concerns, and the reasons why we launched our market investigation, were not challenged by Apple.”

Read more: Apple Claims UK Antitrust Regulator Had “No Power” To Launch Probe

The CMA announced in November 2022 that it was ramping up its antitrust investigation of Apple and Google after receiving “widespread support” for the move that was first proposed in June 2022.

The authority said in November that in the next stage of the investigation, the two Big Tech firms’ dominance of the mobile browser market would be assessed, while Apple would be scrutinized for how it “restricts” cloud gaming through its App Store.

“Apple and Google have an effective duopoly on mobile ecosystems that allows them to exercise a stranglehold over these markets, which include operating systems, app stores and web browsers on mobile devices,” the CMA wrote at the time.

Five months earlier, when the CMA first proposed that move in June, PYMNTS reported that the locus of Apple’s antitrust woes was increasingly moving from the United States to Europe as investigations by European Union (EU) and U.K. authorities were calling for changes to Apple policies.

The CMA spokesperson said in the Friday statement that the CAT’s judgment risks undermining the regulator’s ability to investigate and intervene in markets.

“Given the importance of today’s judgment, we will be considering our options including seeking permission to appeal,” the spokesperson said.