Google's Android charged with breaking EU mpetition law

Google has been charged under EU competition laws for "abusing its position" with its Android operating system.

Margrethe Vestager, the European competition commissioner, said her staff had found that Google's Android operating system had breached EU competition law.

"Google pursue[s] an overall strategy on mobile devices to protect and expand its dominant position on internet search," Vestager said at a press conference. She added that "unjustified restrictions" had been placed on manufacturers to prevent competition.

Google's senior vice president and general counsel Kent Walker, responded to the Commission by saying the company is looking forward to working with the Commission. "Android has helped foster a remarkable and, importantly, sustainable ecosystem, based on open-source software and open innovation," he said. 

The Commission sent "a statement of objection" to Google to outline a number of problems uncovered by its investigation.

"We believe that Google's behaviour 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," Vestager said.

The Commission said Google was dominant in three areas across the European economic area:

Google had a 90 per cent marketshare in these areas, the Commission said.

Officials claimed that Google had breached antitrust rules by requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and the Chrome browser.

Both these apps were also made default choices, stopping manufacturers from selling smartphones using competing operating systems based on Android's open-source code. Google had also given financial incentives to companies for exclusively pre-installing Google Search on their devices, the Commission claimed.

"The Commission believes that these business practices may lead to a further consolidation of the dominant position of Google Search in general internet search services," the Commission said in a statement.

Vestager said the Commission's job was to stop practices that prevent innovation. The case couldn't be compared to Apple's iOS as the company didn't licence its operating system, she said.

The Commission opened its formal investigation against Android in April 2015, when it said there were initial concerns with how the open-source operating system could be used.

Google will have the opportunity to respond to the preliminary findings and has 12 weeks to respond to the allegations. It has already published a blog post outlining its position on the findings and saying how the Android model works. 

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