Google seems to be the favorite target nowadays of investigators at the European Union. Just as the company’s antitrust investigation over its Google search business draws to an end the European Commission is reportedly looking into its alleged anticompetitive practices on its Android mobile operating system.
The European Commission is said to be planning to investigate Google on whether the company has been licensing the Android operating system to manufacturers below cost. This allows it to have the advantage of being the choice of device manufacturers instead of other competing operating systems.
The company is also facing a probe on whether “potential requests by Google to cancel and / or delay the launch of smartphone devices” running competing systems is true. This follows allegations from Microsoft and Nokia that Google has been forcing manufacturers to use its own services instead of the competition.
EU’s antitrust watchdog will also be investigating on whether Google has been forcing manufacturers to pre-install its own apps such as YouTube and making them more prominent in the homesceen. While the Android is a free open source operating system the competition says that Google is using this platform to push their services such as YouTube which brings in a considerable amount of ad revenue.
Google released a statement to the Financial times regarding this report saying that “Android is an open platform that fosters competition. Handset makers, carriers and consumers can decide how to use Android, including which applications they want to use.”
The probe is still in its early stages and is still informal. While experts believe that nothing will come out of this, past experiences have shown that this may develop into a full blown investigation. With Android having an approximately 70 percent market share it’s very likely that this won’t be the last probe the company will be facing.
Just last April a group of companies called Fairsearch Europe, whose members include Nokia, Microsoft and Oracle, filed an antitrust complaint in the EU against Google. According to Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel to the FairSearch coalition, “Google is using its Android mobile operating system as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data. We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market. 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.”