The European Commision sent Google, a Statement of Objections regarding the company’s tactics on Android and its app on Wednesday. The Commission believes that the web giant is violating major antitrust rules using its dominance in the market.
According to the EU, Google has been implementing strategies on mobile devices based on its Android operating system to preserve and strengthen its dominance in Internet search and other web genres. Apparently, the Commission believes that the following practices breach many of its antitrust ‘values’:
- requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and 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.
The European Commission believes that Google is a sort of market leader in the smartphones sector. According to analytics, 80 percent of smart mobile devices in Europe run on Android. This means most of the 50 percent web traffic comes from Android devices. Google is also stated to holds market shares of more than 90% in the markets in the European Economic Area (EEA). The listed markets include general internet search services, licensable smart mobile operating systems and app stores for the Android mobile operating system.
The European Commission believes that the search giant is using this dominance to promote its Search and Chrome functionalities. This leads to huge loss in popularity of other web search engines and mobile browsers and also harms the consumers by forcing their services upon them and limiting them from using other services.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said,
A competitive mobile internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe. Based on our investigation thus far, we believe that Google’s behaviour denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players, in breach of EU antitrust rules. These rules apply to all companies active in Europe.
The Commission states that these business practices strengthen the company’s dominance but breach many values in its code. They also kill of rival services to Search and Chrome.
Further investigation is underway and the initial impression of the EU is that Google’s current schemes harm the consumers by not allowing them freedom to select what they want.
Apparently, Google now has just under 4 months to respond to the Commission’s Statement of Objections.