Going back to 2020, UK regulators started looking into possible antitrust issues regarding Apple’s Safari browser on iPhone and iPad as well as its restriction of mobile gaming on its browser. Now Apple has won an appeal that revokes the UK’s ability to continue its probe into the matter due to a government goof.
After the beginnings of the investigation started years ago, the UK’s Competition and Market Authority (CMA) officially launched a probe last fall into Apple’s browser dominance on mobile devices in combination with its deal with Google as the default search engine. Part of the probe was also looking into how Apple limits what cloud gaming services can do in Safari.
Reported by Reuters, now Apple has won an appeal to dismiss the probe. The ruling was made by the Competition Appeal Tribunal today, March 31.
How did the UK government mess up?
Apple submitted in the appeal that the CMA should have had “no power” to launch the probe because it was so slow to do so. It started almost half a year after the CMA released a report on mobile ecosystems that included its concern about Apple and Google having an “effective duopoly” with Safari.
Today in its ruling, the Competition Appeal Tribunal agreed with Apple’s position stating that the CMA “erred in law” when it didn’t launch the probe in a timely manner.
For its part, the CMA “said it was disappointed with the ruling” and that it “risks substantially undermining the CMA’s ability to efficiently and effectively investigate and intervene in markets where competition is not working well.”
Is it really settled?
While Apple has won for now, the CMA said it is “considering our options” which includes the possibility of appealing the appeal. So we could see this drag out further.
Meanwhile in Europe, as the EU is working on the details of the Digital Markets Act the stage is set for the possibility of Apple being forced to allow third-party app stores.
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