Apple appeals UK's mobile gaming investigation on a technicality

iPhone and Xbox Controller
(Image credit: iMore/Future)

Apple has appealed an investigation into its alleged anti-competitive stance on mobile gaming and web browsers, citing a technicality as the reason it should be canned.

The investigation, kicked off by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA,) started November 2022 and is looking into whether Apple restricts how companies offer mobile games on iPhones. The same investigation also has similar concerns about third-party browsers, with Apple requiring all of them to use its WebKit browsing engine.

Now, Apple says that the investigation shouldn’t happen at all, saying that it missed a key deadline.

Date confusion

Reuters reports that Apple believes that the CMA “missed timing requirements linked to the launch of an investigation.”

"Apple seeks 1) an Order that the MIR Decision is quashed. 2) a declaration that the MIR Decision and market investigation purportedly launched by reference to it are invalid and of no legal effect," the filing with the Appeal Tribunal says.

The CMA says that it will continue onwards, adding that it “opened this investigation to make sure that UK consumers get a better choice of mobile web services and that UK developers can invest in innovative mobile content and services."

It’s notable that Apple’s claim that the investigation should be thrown out relies on a technicality rather than defending its practices, however. Apple doesn’t allow companies like NVIDIA or Microsoft’s Xbox to offer their own game-streaming services via an app, instead forcing gamers to use web-based solutions instead.

The fact that the web browsers Apple forces those services to use happen to use its own browser engine is another point of concern for the CMA. "97% of all mobile web browsing in the UK in 2021 happens on browsers powered by either Apple’s or Google’s browser engine, so any restrictions on these engines can have a major impact on users’ experiences," a press release confirming the investigation noted in November.

As powerful as Apple’s best iPhones might be, even the iPhone 14 Pro can’t compete with game consoles and high-end PCs in terms of graphical prowess and the kinds of games offered. But cloud gaming closes that divide, and the CMA is concerned that Apple’s control could impact gamers and companies alike.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.