On Wednesday, the European Commission issued formal antitrust charges against Google over Android.
EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager published a Statement of Objections against Google, saying that the company's behavior "denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation." When licensing Android, Google requires smartphone makers to preload 11 core Google apps, including Chrome, Search, Gmail, YouTube, and more. These preloaded apps are added to the device before it gets to customers, and customers are unable to delete them. With this approach, the Commission says that Google has illegally abused its market dominance. The Commission's Statement of Objections claims that Google has broken EU antitrust law in three ways: requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Chrome and requiring Search to be default; preventing manufacturers from selling devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code; and giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators for pre-installing Google Search on their devices. It added, "In the Commission's preliminary view, this conduct ultimately harms consumers, because they are not given as wide a choice as possible, and because it stifles innovation."
Google responded to the Commission's Statement of Objections in a blog post. Kent Walker, Google's Senior Vice President and General Counsel, said that the company stands by its Android OS, explaining that it "designed the Android model in a way that's good for competition and for consumers." Walker added that Google is taking the Commission's concerns seriously but, "we also believe that our business model keeps manufacturers' costs low and their flexibility high, while giving consumers unprecedented control of their mobile devices." Walker said that Google will work with the European Commission on this matter.
Photo: © iStock.