Google could be following in Microsoft’s rather expensive footsteps as the European Union opens an antitrust investigation alleging that bundling of Google services with Android represents an abuse of its dominant position in mobile operating systems.
The European Union, every corporate monopoly’s worst enemy, is setting its sights once again on Google. This time it’s going after Google for what it suspects is anti-competitive behavior in bundling of services in Android as well not allowing smartphone manufacturers to create their own versions of Android.
Following the receipt of two complaints, as well as an initial investigation carried out by the Commission on its own initiative, the Commission has now opened a formal investigation to assess if certain conditions in Google’s agreements associated with the use of Android and Google’s proprietary applications and services breach EU antitrust rules.
More specifically, on the basis of the information currently available to the Commission, the investigation will at this stage focus on the following three allegations:
- whether Google has illegally hindered the development and market access of rival mobile applications or services by requiring or incentivising smartphone and tablet manufacturers to exclusively pre-install Google’s own applications or services;
- whether Google has prevented smartphone and tablet manufacturers who wish to install Google’s applications and services on some of their Android devices from developing and marketing modified and potentially competing versions of Android (so-called “Android forks”) on other devices, thereby illegally hindering the development and market access of rival mobile operating systems and mobile applications or services;
- whether Google has illegally hindered the development and market access of rival applications and services by tying or bundling certain Google applications and services distributed on Android devices with other Google applications, services and/or application programming interfaces of Google.
Google has responded to the investigation with a post on it’s Google Europe blog stating that recent smartphone releases that include bundled apps from Facebook and Microsoft is proof of their openness. They also claim that developers are building apps for multiple mobile environments.
- It’s an open-source operating system that can be used free-of-charge by anyone—that’s right, literally anyone. And it’s not just phones. Today people are building almost anything with Android—including tablets, watches, TVs, cars, and more. Some Android devices use Google services, and others do not.
- Our Google Play store contains over one million apps and we paid out over $7 billion in revenue over the past year to developers and content publishers.
- Apps that compete directly with Google such as Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft Office, and Expedia are easily available to Android users. Indeed many of these apps come pre-loaded onto Android devices in addition to Google apps. The recent Samsung S6 is a great example of this, including pre-installed apps from Facebook, Microsoft, and Google.
- Developers have a choice of platforms and over 80% of developers are building apps for several different mobile operating systems.