European Commission Charges Google With Antitrust Violations

Today in Brussels, the European Commission formally laid out charges of antitrust against Google for the Android mobile operating system.  In the complaint, the EC outlines that Google has made several anti-competitive moves with the Android operating system with regard to how apps are bundled with it, using Google search as default and prevented phone manufactures from building competitive operating systems based on Android.  If the charges are upheld, Google faces significant fines including up to 10% of their revenue in the EU.

In the complaint, the EC states that Google, through these practices, have denied users a wider choice of operating systems on their mobile devices and services accessed by those devices.

Android Marshmallow Icon Screen
Android Marshmallow

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. Google now has the opportunity to reply to the Commission’s concerns.

Specifically, the statement outlines three main areas of concern:

In today’s Statement of Objections, the Commission alleges that Google has breached EU antitrust rules by:

  • requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google’s 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.

While this first statement does not mean that Google is guilty, it certainly doesn’t help the company and is the latest in a long series of similar statements from the European Commission around Google’s business practices and domination of the market.  Google at this point has not formally responded to the complaint.