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It seems Google just can’t get away from the antitrust claims. With such a monopoly on search, the company has repeatedly faced questions about whether or not it has used its popularity to favour its own products over those of its competitors. But now it seems another G-product is moving into the spotlight: Android.
Fairsearch Europe, a group of companies including Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, TripAdvisor and Expedia has filed a formal complaint with European regulators, claiming that Android is being used “as a deceptive way to build advantages for key Google apps in 70 percent of the smartphones shipped today,” according to the group’s lawyer Thomas Vinje.
In an official release from Fairsearch Europe, Vinje says Android is being used as a “Trojan Horse” to secure a dominant chunk of the mobile market. The group has asked the European Commission to “move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation” before Google repeats “its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system.”
“Google achieved its dominance in the smartphone operating system market by giving Android to device-makers for ‘free’,” the group says. “But in reality, Android phone makers who want to include must-have Google apps such as Maps, YouTube or Play are required to pre-load an entire suite of Google mobile services and to give them prominent default placement on the phone.”
This, it argues, gives Android the power over consumer data and puts competing apps at a disadvantage on the majority of smartphones shipped today. “Google’s predatory distribution of Android at below-cost makes it difficult for other providers of operating systems to recoup investments in competing with Google’s dominant mobile platform,” it says.
Speaking to the New York Times, the European Union’s antitrust chief declined to comment on the new complaint at this stage, although the group will need to formally respond in due course. He did say that Android was also being considered as part of its current investigations into Google’s search practices, which have been under way since late 2010.
The European regulators are looking into whether or not Google gives unfair advantage to its own services in search — for example, if you search an address, you’re likely to see a result from Google Maps or a place page from Google+. They’ve suggested that Google takes reconsiders how it displays results, so it can include options from other competitors and mark its products as separate, so the users had more options and could make their own (more informed) choices.