Apple wins appeal against UK antitrust probe into mobile browser dominance

The company won on a procedural technicality.

Ann Wang / reuters

Apple has handed the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority a major setback in its effort to regulate the tech giant. On Friday, the company won an appeal against an investigation the antitrust watchdog launched last fall. As a refresher, the CMA opened a full market probe into Apple and Google in November. At the time, the regulator said that many UK businesses felt restricted by the “stranglehold” the two tech giants had on mobile browsing. The probe also sought to determine if Apple was restricting the cloud gaming market through its App Store rules.

Per Reuters, Apple successfully argued the regulator had “no power” to investigate its position in the mobile browser market. The company said the CMA should have opened the probe at the same time it first published its report on mobile ecosystems last June. The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), the court that oversees CMA cases, agreed with Apple, saying the regulator gave notice of its investigation too late.

Apple said it was “pleased” with the CAT’s decision, adding it would “continue working to deliver support for developers and a safe and secure experience for users.” Naturally, the CMA was less thrilled with the case’s outcome.

“We are disappointed with today’s judgment. We made this market investigation reference to make sure that UK consumers get a better choice of mobile internet services and that UK developers can invest in innovative new apps. Our concerns, and the reasons why we launched our market investigation, were not challenged by Apple,” the regulator said in a statement. "Given the importance of today's judgment, we will be considering our options including seeking permission to appeal."