Tuesday

24th Apr 2018

Google rejects EU antitrust charges on Android

  • Google dominates 90 percent of the EU online search market. (Photo: Rosa Jimenez Cano)

Google’s Android operating system has boosted competition rather than stifling it, the US tech firm said on Thursday (10 November), as it formally answered European Commission antitrust charges.

The company allows phone manufacturers and mobile network operators to use Android for free, but it comes with 11 pre-installed Google apps, including a search function and Play, the company’s own app store.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The system is widely successful. Some 75 percent of the phones in the EU already use Android, and its share of the market is growing. Google also has a 90 percent share of Europe's internet search market, which is where it makes most of its money.

EU competition commissioner Margarethe Vestager said in April that Google protected its dominant market position by imposing unjustified conditions on manufacturers and mobile network operators that use Android.

Google replies that the deal allows it to sustain its investments, while lowering prices for phone makers and consumers.

”Android means manufacturers don’t have to buy or build expensive mobile operating systems. As a result, smartphones are now available at dramatically lower prices - as little as €45 - and have become much more accessible to many more people,” Google’s senior vice president and general counsel Kent Walker wrote in a blog post.

People want pre-installed apps

Vestager also criticised that Google provided financial incentives to manufacturers that exclusively installed Google’s search app on their smartphones and tablets.

Walker said the suite was necessary to ensure compatibility of the operating system among different devices.

Users want to have some pre-installed apps, so they can use the phone at once after taking it out of the box, the lawyer said.

”Android’s competitors, including Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows phone, not only do the same, but they allow much less choice in the apps that come with their phones,” he wrote.

He said Google only asked for a small number of pre-installed apps - 11, out of the 38 to 45 which usually come with a new phone - and didn’t prevent manufacturers from installing rivals’ products.

According to Google, smartphone owners download on average 50 apps to complement the ones which come with the cell.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), an American think tank, threw its weight behind Google, dismissing all the commission’s objectives as invalid.

Daniel Castro, ITIF vice president, wrote in his own blog post that the EU executive ”put ideology ahead of consumers”.

”The root of the problem with EU regulators’ complaints is that they are relying on outdated economic theories. They do not seem to understand that innovation-based industries, like mobile operating systems, operate differently than conventional industries,” he wrote.

Jake Ward, president and CEO of the Application Developers Alliance, recently wrote for this website that the EU’s case against Google was bad for app developers. 

FairSearch, a lobby group against Google’s dominant position in the online search market, said "it was time to end Google’s abuse of its Android monopoly” and called on the commission to find the US company liable.

A complicated case

”Any manufacturer or network operator seeking to differentiate its devices or services is prevented from doing so by the web of Google's contractual restrictions the commission says is illegal. Google imposes severe sanctions on those who defy its insistence on conformity. For example, a phone maker that offers even a few phones that do not comply with Google's straightjacket faces a cut-off from all of Google’s branded products,” FairSearch’s counsel Thomas Vinje wrote.

The case is highly technical. Google was due to reply in July, but asked six times to extend the deadline.

Last week, the US company rejected charges in two other EU probes, on online shopping and AdSense service for advertisement. 

The commission continues its investigation of all the three cases.

If found guilty of breaching EU competition law, Google could face fines up to 10 percent of its global revenue.

Focus

EU charges Google over Android

The European Commission accuses Google of violating competition rules with its Android operating system for smartphones.

EU fines Google €2.4 bn over online shopping

Brussels says Google has abused a near-monopoly position in online searches to favour its shopping service, but the US company said Brussels cannot prove the charges.

Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform

France and Germany have pledged to forge a joint position on euro reform by June, despite German reluctance on deeper monetary union.

News in Brief

  1. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  2. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  3. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  4. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement
  5. Nahles elected new leader of Germany's SPD
  6. Report: EU budget to refocus on South
  7. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  8. MEPs urge better protection for journalists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  3. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  5. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  6. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  7. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  8. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  9. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  10. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations

Latest News

  1. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack
  2. European Commission proposes whistleblower protection law
  3. Secrecy of VW fraud report 'unacceptable', says MEP
  4. 'Strong suspicion' of corruption in Council of Europe assembly
  5. France tightens immigration law, sparking division
  6. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  7. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  8. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  2. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  5. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  6. European Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  7. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  8. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  9. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  10. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  12. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?