EU Says Google Violates Antitrust Regulations with Android Practices

Published: April 21, 2016 6:29 PM /


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The European Commission has published a press release accusing Google of anti-competitive practices.  The Commission has already sent a statement of objections to Google, but the complaints are summarized in the press release as well. The post notes that, "Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation."

The Commission notes that, within the EU, Google has over 90% market share both as a general search engine and as a provider of mobile operating systems. It believes that Google is abusing its dominant market position to enforce restrictions on Android phone manufacturers. The post states that such restrictions are stifling competition and innovation in the mobile market, and protecting Google's dominant position. The Commission indicates that there are three practices by Google that it believes violate EU antitrust law. They are:

  • requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google's Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps;

  • preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code;

  • giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices.

Google quickly reacted with a blog post responding to the accusations. The post states that partner agreements are voluntary, and anyone can create Android devices without Google. It notes that companies like Amazon do just that. Google defends its practice of requiring manufacturing partners to not use forks of Android on the grounds that it ensures compatibility of apps across devices.

The post also argues that requiring manufacturers to pre-install certain Google apps is required to make Android economically viable. It states that development of the OS is costly, but it is made available for free. Revenue Google makes from its apps offsets the cost of developing Android. Finally, the post states that having Google apps pre-installed on the phone does not stifle competition, and users are free to install numerous competing apps if they choose.

Should Google be punished for anti-competitive practices, or are they being targeted unfairly? Leave your comments below.

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I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.