Brussels — The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, saying that the tech company is violating antitrust rules of the European Union (EU), by preserving “its dominance in general internet search,” on most Android devices sold in the region.
The document remarks that Google Search is pre-installed and set as default on the majority of Android devices, which can “close off ways for rival search engines” that want to enter the market of mobile browsers and operating systems, said the Commission in a press release issued Wednesday.
At the same time, Google appears to be affecting consumers, by “restricting” competition and innovation in the mobile segment, said the institution. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of the competition policy, said that the market of mobile internet is having an important increase for consumers and businesses in the old continent.
“Based on our investigation thus far we believe that Google’s behavior 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,” Vestager said.
The impact of Android in Europe
Currently, more than half of global internet traffic is generated by smartphones and tablets. Same percentages would rise in the future, said the Commission. Android operating system plays a relevant role in the mobile segment, with 80 percent of smart devices sold worldwide.
Commissioner Vestager said Wednesday that Google has yet the chance to respond to the concerns of the Commission. The latter, opened proceedings a year ago, to discuss Google’s hegemony, led by Android and apps developed by the same company.
By April, the Commission considers that the tech giant dominates markets for general internet search services, licensable smart mobile operating system and app stores for Android, holding 90 percent of market shares in those markets, in the European Economic Area.
Why is Google dominating the market?
The Statement of Objections said that Google is violating the antitrust rules of the EU, by requiring phone makers to pre-install Google Search and Google Chrome. Moreover, the Commission mentioned that Google prevents other manufacturers from selling phones and tablets, running on operating systems based on the Android open source code.
The document also said that Google offers financial incentives to phone makers, to pre-install a set of Google apps or the Google Search bar on their devices. The Commission reported in a review, that measures taken by the company “affect the ability of competing mobile browsers” and “harm consumers,” who are not given enough choices.
Google’s response to the European Commission
The tech company issued a press release on Wednesday, saying that concerns of the European Commission are taken seriously, and argued that the Android business model “keeps manufacturers’ costs low and their flexibility high.”
“Our partner agreements are entirely voluntary — anyone can use Android without Google. Try it—you can download the entire operating system for free, modify it how you want, and build a phone. And major companies like Amazon do just that.” said the company on Wednesday.
Source: European Commission