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Google falls foul of the European Commission

Most successful companies seem to cross swords with the European Commission at some time and now it appears to be Google with their Android operating system. The search engine giant has been charged under EU competition laws for “abusing its position” and as Margrethe Vestager, the European competition commissioner pointed out, she had found out that her staff saw that Google’s Android operating system had breached EU competition law.

What happened is not really surprising as the company sought to protect and expand its dominant position on internet search. The Commissioner went on to say that Google had placed what in her words she described as “unjustified restrictions” on manufacturers designed to prevent competition.

It was unlikely that Google was going to take the charge lying down and senior vice president and general counsel Kent Walker did suggest that Google would look forward to working with the commission. He went on to say: “Android has helped foster a remarkable and, importantly, sustainable ecosystem, based on open-source software and open innovation.”

The charge laid down by the European Commission said that Google had denied customers a choice of mobile apps and services, they also said that Google stood in the way of other operators in breach of EU antitrust rules.  The charge also said that Google was dominant in three specific areas across that European economic area: General internet search services, Licensable smart mobile operating systems and App stores from the Android mobile operating system, they confirmed that Google had a 90% share in these particular areas. One of the more serious charges was that Google had breached antitrust rules by requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and the Chrome browser.

It can be seen that when purchasing a tablet or smartphone using the Android system, that the two apps mentioned are made default choices, this meant that manufacturers were prevented from using competing operating systems based on Android’s open-source code. The Commission believes that this will result in further consolidation of the dominant position of Google Search in general internet search services.

The Commission opened its formal investigation against Android in April 2015, when it said there were initial concerns with how the open-source operating system could be used. Google will have the opportunity to respond to the preliminary findings and has 12 weeks to respond to the allegations.

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