Google gets slapped with Android OS anti-trust allegations in the EU

Posted on April 22, 2013

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Great article about how the EU is being petitioned to review how Google is handling the ‘FREE’ use of Android OS to handset manufacturers and then stacking the deck on the APP with favorably Google APP’s and diminishing competitive APP’s. Anti-trust allegations are flying.

Google alleged to be using Android as a Trojan horse to deceive partners By Chantal Tode Mobile Marketer NY

Google is facing antitrust allegations related to its mobile business in Europe in a new complaint filed by a group of companies including Microsoft.

FairSearch.org has filed a complaint with the European Commission alleging that Google is employing anti-competitive strategies to dominate the mobile marketplace and gain control over consumer Internet data for online advertising as users shifts to mobile devices. In the past, Google has faced antitrust claims related to its search business in both Europe and the United States but recently the Federal Trade Commission said the search giant did not break any laws.

“EU anti-trust seems willing to be more aggressive than the U.S., so I don’t think it is a bellwether for the U.S.,” said Brennan Hayden, executive vice president and chief operating officer at WDA, East Lansing, MI.

“EU watches mobile probably even more closely than the Internet, because mobile is more significant to EU society relative to broadband,” he said. “So I think the authorities will be even more receptive to an anti-trust complaint in mobile than search.

“The dominance of Android as the OS of choice is accelerating. It isn’t uncommon for large corporate rivals to move to the courts when market competition alone isn’t achieving the desired results.”

Google apps
Android is the largest mobile operating system and is installed on approximately 70 percent of new smartphones.

Android is open-source software that manufacturers can use and modify for their own purposes. For example, Amazon’s Kindle Fire is built on Android and excludes many Google services.

The allegations claim that Google is acting unfairly by giving Android to device manufacturers for free but requiring them to pre-load a variety of Google mobile services and give them prominent default placement on a phone in order to be able to include must-have apps such as Google Maps, Google Play and YouTube. As a result, the claim alleges, other providers are at a disadvantage and Google is in control of consumer data on a majority of smartphones.


Google Maps

A total of 17 companies are involved in filing the complaint with European authorities including Microsoft, Nokia, and Oracle. The group claims Google is deceiving partners, monopolizing the mobile marketplace and control consumer data.

They are asking that an antitrust investigation be launched into Google’s role in how the Internet is accessed via mobile devices.

The commission has reportedly not decided yet whether to take up the case or drop it.

Trojan Horse
The FairSearch complaint says Google uses deceptive conduct to block competition in mobile.

“Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data,” said Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel to the FairSearch coalition, in a statement.

“We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market,” he said.

“Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system.”

The European Commission is already considering allegations that Google may be abusing its dominance in desktop search advertising.

Kindle Fire

The search giant is also the focus in Europe of concern over its privacy policies, with six European data protection authorities having begun coordinating efforts to force Google to comply with EU privacy laws they say Google violated by consolidating its privacy policies, according to FairSearch.org.

“This case – Android OS giving Google apps priority position on the handset – seems a bit different than the case specifying Google search algorithm concerns, whereby some have put in complaints to the European antitrust regulators that their web properties virtually disappeared in the Google search results if they were deemed competition to Google,” said Steve Timpson, president of Siteminis, Atlanta.

“Both allegation sets are similar in that competitors want equal footing for customer acquisition of their web properties,” he said. “The main difference is that the search issue seems to not be tied to a license agreement as does the Android issue.”

“The success of Android is most likely behind this antitrust activity and it would appear this is related to the successful adoption by consumers of Android.”

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