Competition Commission delays investigation into Takealot and Google online dominance

South Africa’s Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, has extended the period to complete the Online Intermediation Platforms Market Inquiry (OIPMI) until 19 May 2023.

The inquiry is looking into online markets operating in South Africa and whether there are factors that could be hampering competition or undermining the public interest.

The deadline to complete the inquiry and final report was set for 18 April 2023.

The Competition Commission launched the inquiry in February 2021.

For the past 26 months, it has been gathering evidence and holding public and in-camera hearings on online intermediation platforms in the ecommerce, app stores, travel and accommodation, food delivery, and online classifieds business.

In July 2022, the Competition Commission published a provisional report with recommendations based on its findings.

Its findings could have substantial ramifications for dominant players in their respective industries, including:

  • Takealot
  • Apple App Store
  • Google Play Store
  • Airbnb
  • Mr Delivery (Mr D)
  • Uber Eats
  • Property24
  • Private Property
  • AutoTrader
  • Google Search and its specialist units like Google Shopping and Google Travel

It found that Google Search plays an important role in guiding consumers to different platforms, meaning it shapes platform competition.

It provisionally found that the preferential placement of Google’s specialist search units distorts competition in the tech giant’s favour.

Therefore, it recommended that search results are based on relevance only and that Google allows market participants to compete for prominence in its search results by removing the guaranteed positions for Google’s search units.

The inquiry’s provisional report also made recommendations relating to the travel & accommodation, ecommerce, and food delivery industries.

The Competition Commission held public hearings between 2 and 19 November 2021. The following companies participated in the public hearings:

App stores

  • Huawei
  • Interactive Entertainment South Africa (IESA)
  • App Developer Studio
  • Devon Software
  • Naspers
  • Google and Google Play

Travel accommodation platforms

  • Tripco
  • SA Venues
  • Flightsite
  • Avis
  • Xtreme Car Rental
  • Google search, travel and shopping
  • AKTV
  • Travelstart
  • Expedia

Ecommerce platforms

  • BidorBuy
  • Adeo
  • Red puppy
  • Elite Shopper
  • Makro
  • Takealot
  • Price Check

Delivery platforms

  • Dryver
  • Buzz Delivery
  • Sisters on the Move
  • UberEats
  • Quench
  • Paarl Eats
  • We Dash
  • Restaurant Association of South Africa
  • MrD
  • Famous Brands
  • Bolt Food

Online classifieds

  • MyProperty
  • Private Property
  • 0800Properties
  • Property24
  • Autotrader
  • Carfind
  • Sandown Motor Holdings
  • eDreams

The general functioning of the online economy and other issues highlighted by the competition was set to be addressed during the public hearings.

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Competition Commission delays investigation into Takealot and Google online dominance