EU competition commissioner to test antitrust complaint against Google

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The European Union’s Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, has received another complaint about Google — this time with regards to how it runs its mobile software business and the Android operating system.

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The complaint claims that Google’s mobile operating system (OS) promotes Google’s own products and services on many Android-supported smartphones.

The latest Smartphone Platform Market Share shows that Android controls 51.7% of the US market, indicating that its competitors would have ample reason to be upset if they felt Google was unfairly advertising its own products.

The New York Times reported that the antitrust complaint was filed by a coalition of companies, unsurprisingly including Microsoft and Nokia, the major companies behind Windows Phone which only enjoys 3.2% of the marketshare.

The Competition Commissioner has yet to take up the complaint as he is still in settlement talks regarding another Google complaint — one that focused on its search and advertising business practices.

Having met with Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt and other prominent members of the company about that inquiry, Almunia will review and test Google-submitted proposals later this week intended to help people distinguish when the search-engine giant is advertising its own products.

The timing of the new antitrust complaint seems fitting then, as Google is well and truly on Almunia’s mind. Or perhaps it is just Microsoft and Nokia taking a chance at getting Google to play ‘fair’ in the mobile space?

Up until now, Almunia’s modus operandi has largely been about discussion and compromise, for which he has received much criticism, however he stated that he was not standing up to Google and pointed out that some of the complaints were unrealistic in regards to what Antitrust laws can achieve.

“I don’t feel that I am losing my nerve.”

“It’s obvious that not everybody has the same merits… Antitrust decisions cannot eliminate these merits and put everyone in the same position.”

Almunia is thought of as the best port of call for antitrust enforcement in the technology sector as he has the power to issue punishments on antitrust breaches without judicial approval.

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