Insights Competition and Markets Authority publishes progress update on its mobile ecosystems market study


In December 2021, the CMA published an interim report on its market study into mobile ecosystems. The study was launched in June 2021 to assess potential sources of harm to consumers within four broad themes:

  1. competition in the supply of mobile devices and operating systems;
  2. competition in the distribution of mobile apps;
  3. competition in the supply of mobile browsers and browser engines; and
  4. the role of Apple and Google in competition between app developers.

The interim report set out the CMA’s initial findings, the concerns that it had identified, and the range of potential interventions it had identified that could address them. The CMA also sought comments on the report by 7 February 2022, to which it received around 70 responses.

The progress update notes the key developments since the CMA published its interim report:

  1. on 11 February 2022, the CMA published its final decision to accept the commitments offered by Google on its plans to remove third-party cookies from Chrome and replace them with alternative “Privacy Sandbox” tools; the CMA says that the commitments are an important step towards ensuring that Google’s proposals can enhance its users’ privacy without damaging competition or reinforcing Google’s market power; the CMA will now oversee Google’s development of its Privacy Sandbox; and
  2. on 16 February 2022, Google announced its intention to roll out a similar set of privacy-related changes in relation to app advertising within the Android ecosystem, which it refers to collectively as its Android Privacy Sandbox (see item under “Advertising & Marketing”); Google has indicated that it intends to apply, on a voluntary basis, the principles of the commitments mentioned above to its proposed Android Privacy Sandbox; the CMA says that it will continue to monitor this closely and engage with Google and other market participants on the nature and detail of its proposals, before reaching any view on the best way forward; in doing so, the CMA is conscious of the possible parallels with Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, which have also been a key focus of the market study.

These developments and the CMA’s assessment of them will be reflected in the final report.

Over the next few months, the CMA will be undertaking further evidence gathering and analysis. The final report of the market study will be published by 14 June 2022.

Although the official consultation period on the CMA’s interim report has now closed, the CMA is still keen to hear from people and organisations that have relevant evidence or views. To access the progress update, click here.