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Europe under pressure to restrict power of mobile platforms

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The ability of mobile platform owners to act as gatekeepers to the mobile consumer has been criticized by leading music streaming services in a letter to the European Commission.

The letter was seen by the FT and among the allegations made was that big internet platforms abuse their privileged position. Not specific companies were named but since there was apparently specific reference to mobile operating systems, app stores and search engines, that basically means Google and Apple.

Since Google accounts for around 85% of the global smartphone market via Android, an even greater share of internet search and the majority of global browser share, it would be fair to assume that company is the main focus of such ire. Apple, however, keeps even tighter control of its mobile platform than Google does.

The letter was signed by the CEOs of Spotify and Deezer, so the specific area of concern is presumably music streaming services. Both Google and Apple have their own competing music streaming services, which they would presumably like to see steal market share from the incumbents. Google even managed to persuade Samsung recently to support the Google service over its own.

One of the specific request in the letter is for extra regulation to cover this sort of thing since antitrust litigation is very expensive and time-consuming. Google is regularly under the spotlight for this sort of thing, with search company Yandex recently having some success in Turkey and Russia. Meanwhile Spotify has moaned specifically about Apple hampering its efforts.

The FT didn’t get any comment from Google or Apple on the story but letters like this are bound to cause concern as they’re just the sort of thing that gets the European Commission juggernaut rolling, which usually results in at least extensive fines.

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