Europe: Google Abuses Its Position With Restrictions on Android Devices

The European Commission has filed a statement of objections regarding Google practices it claims breach antitrust rules.

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Apr 20 2016, 11:25am

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On Wednesday, the European Commission announced that Google may have breached EU antitrust rules by abusing its leading position in the mobile operating system market to impose unfair restrictions on Android device makers and operators.

"The Commission's preliminary view is that Google has implemented a strategy on mobile devices to preserve and strengthen its dominance in general internet search," reads a press release from the Commission.

The main issue the Commission has is that Google requires manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and the Chrome browser on their devices , making it the default search service for most Android devices sold in Europe. The Commission also complains that Google has provided financial incentives for manufacturers to pre-install Google Search exclusively on mobile devices.

In sum, the Commission thinks Google has cut off avenues for other companies to compete.

"The Commission believes that these business practices may lead to a further consolidation of the dominant position of Google Search in general internet search services," the Commission said in its statement. "It is also concerned that these practices affect the ability of competing mobile browsers to compete with Google Chrome, and that they hinder the development of operating systems based on the Android open source code and the opportunities they would offer for the development of new apps and services."

Google has responded to the claims, saying in its own blog post that, "We take these concerns seriously, but we also believe that our business model keeps manufacturers' costs low and their flexibility high, while giving consumers unprecedented control of their mobile devices."

"Of course while Android is free for manufacturers to use, it's costly to develop, improve, keep secure, and defend against patent suits. We provide Android for free, and offset our costs through the revenue we generate on our Google apps and services we distribute via Android," the post continues.

In April last year, the Commission formally filed anti-trust accusations against Google for the first time, in a different case relating to search practices.

"If the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe," Margrethe Vestager, the European Union's competition commissioner, told the New York Times last year.

The Commission's latest charges came in the form of a "statement of objections," meaning that Google now has a chance to respond formally, and to request an oral hearing to present their points. The company has several months to do that, according to the New York Times.