Phone and gadget manufacturers in the European Union are being encouraged to refrain from adding pre-installed apps to new phones, so as to fight against some companies, such as Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, from enjoying an oligopoly over the market, and acting as “gatekeepers”.
This comes even as the EU continues to debate and look back on its Digital Markets Act.
Companies Work Together to Create Market Oligopoly
Andy Yen, CEO and founder of Swiss company Proton, has said that firms like Google and Apple benefit from the general user behaviour, wherein around 95 percent of users tend to never change their default settings. This leads to an app being highly likely to remain a default app, even if users have the option to delete it.
The EU is set to introduce its new Digital Markets Act, Section 6 of which will allow users to get rid of any “pre-installed software applications”.
Experts have said that the big players spend billions of dollars to ensure that they always have the upper hand. For instance, all Apple phones have Google as the default browser, because Google pays a huge sum of money to Apple every year for the same.
Google was fined a massive sum of € 4 million in July 2018 by the European Commission, on grounds of paying large amounts to the “biggest manufacturers” to install Google products on their mobiles “exclusively”.
Need For Stronger Rules
Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, MEP at Renew, has called for stricter rules, so that online competition can be put back on track.
Proton wrote a mail explaining how the so-called “Big Tech” companies act as “gatekeepers” and protect themselves from competition. As per the mail, these companies set their own apps as default on a majority of new smartphones, even if it costs them a significant amount.
Such practices have long been a cause of concern to many regulator authorities, and have been much more so in the recent times. This was exemplified by the comment of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) on the DMA, wherein it has said that such monopolistic practices by companies harm the “effective choice of users”.